Monday, June 30, 2008
Just kidding, Big K!
Talk about the good old days. Who cares if the pharmacies are filled with poison (see below)--as long as you get to relax by throwing butcher's knives at the kiddies! (How about the two knives that don't quite hit their marks? That's some crazy stuff right there.)
I think someone should track down those two kids and see if they made it to eighteen alive.
(Do I really need to say don't try this at home?)
Sunday, June 29, 2008
. . . when all you needed to feel your best was a radioactive suppository. (Bet grandpa never told you about those, did he?)
You read right. The 1898 discovery of the radioactive element radium by Marie Curie (who may have suffered from Uncombable Hair Syndrome) quickly led to the launch of countless products that were said to do a body good.
Radium became the secret ingredient in tonics, face creams, toothpaste, and suppositories that were sold well into the 1930s. There was also delicious Radium chocolate (shown below), which claimed to rejuvenate those who ate it (but probably just dissolved their tongues).
According to Fogonazos, small amounts of radium were even added to tea, ice creams, lipsticks, bath salts, and Halloween costumes that glowed in the dark. Most were eventually pulled from the shelves, but not before they sickened (or killed) many an American.
I don't even want to think about what happened to the people who purchased those suppositories. Of course radium wasn't the only harmful chemical that was sold in pharmacies. Cocaine and morphine were once wildly available. There were even opium-based baby medicines with names like "Mother's Helper" that claimed to help with teething pains! Poor little tots. They were drug addicts before they could speak.
Read more here.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
We at Ananka's Diary may have gotten a little carried away with the gruesome lately. So for the next week, we promise to offer only the most wholesome and inspirational fare. Of course, that's OUR definition of wholesome and inspirational--which might differ slightly from your own.
(Above and below: The work of artist Nagi Noda.)
For most of my childhood, I was obsessed with a medical condition that bears the highly descriptive name Black Hairy Tongue. (Those of you who caught the reference in Kiki Strike can rest assured that the disease does, in fact, exist. It's also another REALLY good reason not to start smoking.)
But as of today, I'm fascinated by a new disorder. It's called Uncombable Hair Syndrome. People with this dreaded condition (shown below) literally CANNOT comb their hair. Sometime in late childhood, the hair of otherwise healthy individuals turns lighter--often a pale blonde. As it gradually grows drier, it develops a texture that's been described as "spun glass." (Think Barbie's hair after several years of makeovers.) Eventually, it reaches a stage where no comb can tame it.
To date, the only treatment for Uncombably Hair Syndrome is a baseball hat. So I call upon all of you with an interest in science to search for a cure!
Read more here.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Many ancient societies believed that birds conveyed signs from the gods. The appearance of certain kinds of birds was seen as a good omen. Others were clear indicators that disaster was on the way.
What would the ancients have made of the rare albino crows that have recently been spotted soaring over Vancouver? Maybe they've come to bestow blessings on the city. Or maybe, just maybe, they're a sign of an especially horrible post below.
(Photo by fatcontroller.)
Over the past ten months, residents who live along the coast of British Columbia have made a number of gruesome discoveries. Five, to be exact. In August of 2007, a human foot encased in a running sneaker washed up on the shore of Jedediah Island. Four more feet were to follow. Each one had once belonged to an unknown male, and all were wearing sneakers. But perhaps the most chilling detail--they were all RIGHT feet.
Where are the feet coming from? No one knows. Perhaps they belong to people who've been lost at sea. Maybe it's a mortician's sick joke. Or maybe a killer is leaving his mark. All investigators know for sure is that a sixth foot that recently washed ashore was a hoax.
Want to try your hand at an explanation? Read more about the case at newsweek.com.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Looking for ways to keep yourself entertained (Jin Ai)? Instructables is a wonderful website where you can find instructions for doing just about anything. (A few of which are guaranteed to help you start building a closer relationship with your local law enforcement officers and/or ER doctors, so use some common sense.)
For your summertime pleasure, I've made a short list my favorite "how to" guides, including how to:
Make creepy cool vinyl wall art.
Construct a device that will open any padlock.
Grow a square watermelon.
Build a cheap secret compartment.
Create cute little fridge magnets.
Construct a "poor man's" lockpick.
Make glow-in-the-dark, edible jello.
Create a pocket plant.
Transform ditzy Barbie into dangerous Wonder Woman.
And my personal favorite, build a Barbie electric chair!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
(All images by pixelab.)
Scientists say that if the average temperature of the world's ocean rises by just one degree, the resulting rise in water level will flood coastal cities around the world. (Including New York!) Where will the inhabitants go? One architect, Vincent Callebaut, has devoted himself to finding a solution.
He has designed LILYPAD, an amphibious, self-sustaining city modeled after the round, flat leaves of giant floating lilies. Each LILYPAD could accommodate 50,000 inhabitants. A central lagoon would collect and purify rainwater while the structure's three "mountains" would house facilities for work, shopping, and entertainment. LILYPAD is also designed to be so energy efficient that it would be able to supply energy to nearby countries and cities.
It sounds cool and looks even better. But I hope they're never necessary. I'd much rather stay on the island of Manhattan.
See more here.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
If I ever win the lottery, I plan to devote my life and my fortune to finding Bigfoot. I'm not joking. Of course, I might not tell the world if I found him/her. (Because you know there's some doofus out there who would pay anything for a Bigfoot head on his wall.) But I want to know for myself if there really are super-sized ape-men roaming the planet.
I suspect there are. Why? Because practically every heavily-forested area on earth--from the Amazon to Appalachia--is said to be home to a Bigfoot-like creature. I've done posts on ape-men of the world, but new ones keep popping up. Like the Ohio Grassman.
Grassmen are large, hairy beasts that reside in the forests and fields of Ohio. They're thought to have been given their unusual name by early European settlers who spotted the creatures slinking through the tall prairie grasses and mistook them for an unknown tribe. Though similar to Bigfoot in many ways, the Grassmen often travel in groups, and are believed to be more social than their solitary cousins.
I recently watched an episode of Monster Quest that featured the Ohio Grassman. One of the more intriguing pieces of evidence to be presented was an elaborate "nest" that had been discovered in the middle of the woods. I've watched a lot of Bigfoot shows in my day, and I've never seen anything quite like this.
(The nest can be seen around five minutes and forty-three seconds into the video below.)
See more evidence here.
In related news, the BBC News website recently featured an article about the mande barung (shown below), a peaceful, fruit-eating ape-man that lives in the forests of India and Southeast Asia. Read more here.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
(Above: Snails providing hours and hours of wholesome entertainment.)
I was going to write a nice long post about Bigfoot today, but I think I shall save that for tomorrow and turn my attention to one of nature's smallest creatures. (But you probably already knew that, since almost all of you appear to be psychic. If you ever have any prophetic dreams about me, I insist that you send me a note!)
The humble snail (shown above) has long been the butt of jokes. However, today we must peer deep into our own hearts and ask ourselves: Do they really deserve this abuse?
The Case FOR Snails:
They make excellent objet d'art: British artist Slinkachu has been decorating the shells of average snails and setting the little beasties loose in London. How cool would it be to look down and see something like this . . .
Also, they actually CAN deliver the mail. (If you're ready to wait for them.) The good folks at boredomresearch.net have created the world's first webmail service using real snails. Their fastest postal worker, a snail named Austin, averages a 1.96 day delivery time!
And, of course, snails taste magnifique! I love escargot, but my favorite snails are whelks, which are best enjoyed with a little mayonnaise.
However, the case AGAINST snails is quite serious:
The truth is, snails are quite disgusting to behold, and they can gobble up a garden in no time. They've also been known to display homicidal tendencies.
And don't forget the Giant Chupacabras Snail. Shudder. Imagine finding that in your lettuce . . .
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I recently read about a new show on A&E called Psychic Kids. I find most shows that deal with the paranormal to be unbearably cheesy and boring. But Psychic Kids looks kind of cool.
Personally, I wouldn't be at all surprised if some kids have special abilities. I think young people's minds are more open to the unusual--largely because they haven't yet been taught what to think. (For the record, I never had any psychic abilities, but I did see a ghost when I was quite small.)
The video below introduces you to three "psychic kids," including eight-year-old Faith. She claims she can speak to a boy named Freddie who died in 1886 at the hands of his mother. Whether or not it's true, (and the show offers some surprising evidence that it might be), it's hard to find fault with Faith, who seems like a smart, brave, 100% trustworthy kid.
See what you think!
Check out the rest of Faith's story here:
Part 3 (Thanks, Anonymous!)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
(Above: I wish I knew whom to credit for this amazing picture.)
So far this summer, four swimmers have been attacked near the Mexican beach resort of Zihuantanejo (not far from Acapulco), and one expert has come up with a macabre explanation. Jose Leonardo Castillo, chief shark investigator for Mexico’s National Fishing Institute, thinks it's possible that the area's sharks "HAVE DEVELOPED A TASTE FOR HUMANS."
This, of course, would contradict the majority of shark experts, who've been trying for years to convince us that sharks aren't fond of human flesh. According to this article at livescience.com, "Humans don't taste good. Sharks prefer blubber. Shark teeth are lined with nerve endings that can sense the calorie-rich blubber of a seal as opposed to the bone and muscle filling most humans."
Likely story. Every halfway intelligent five-year-old knows that humans taste just like chicken.
So it's a good thing that I came across this handy weapon. The WASP Injector Knife has a gas-filled canister inside its handle. Should you encounter one of the beasts of the deep, one quick jab will inject the shark with a painful pocket of gas and force it float to the surface of the ocean.
Make sure you strap one to your ankle before you jump on that surfboard. Or, at the very least, cook up a bit of homemade shark repellent. (I love Mike Rowe from the show Dirty Jobs.)
Monday, June 16, 2008
OK, this is it. The post offers the perfect combination of really cute and completely, totally, mind-bogglingly disgusting. (As well as a shout out to all our Aussie friends!)
Warning: This video is truly disgusting. And anyone who says it's not is sick, sick, sick. (Even if you've seen it before, it's worth another watch.)
Sunday, June 15, 2008
My mother, Big K, sent me this picture today. It's a catamount (cougar) that was hit by a car not far from where I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina. Look at the size of that thing! I hear someone spotted it just a few days before it died hauling off a full-grown steer from a farm yard. (I want to see the contents of its stomach. I bet there's at least one hitchhiker in there, too.)
I had NO IDEA there were creatures like that in the North Carolina woods these days! I'm glad they're not extinct as I imagined, (and I'm sorry this one didn't make it) but how many times did I come close to being cat food? I will never leave New York again. Sorry, mom.
Once again, I've found proof that I don't know everything. (I'm sure you're as shocked as I am.) At first it was only an intriguing name: Diggers of the Underground Planet. But all it took was one google search to know I was on to something good . . . very good.
The Diggers are a group founded by eccentric Russian explorer Vadim Mikhailov (shown below). For the past few decades, they've had a single mission: Exploring the thousands of miles of tunnels underneath Moscow. That's right. The capitol of Russia has its own enormous Shadow City comprised of ancient passages, hidden rooms, sewer tunnels, underground rivers and subway lines. According to Mikhailov, in some parts of the city, the underground is more than 15 layers and 700 meters deep. And it's not empty. Thousands of homeless people, criminals, and vagabonds call the tunnels home--and those numbers tend to soar during the cruel Moscow winters.
Despite the ever-present dangers of toxic sludge and hoodlums, the Diggers have managed to make some jaw-dropping discoveries, including . . .
1. Over 500 pounds of radioactive material under Moscow State University.
2. A legendary underground pool that was used for mass suicides as far back as the eighteenth century.
3. Stalin's private subway system, which was built to carry important citizens out of Moscow in an emergency.
4. (According to one account) Tsar Ivan the Terrible's secret torture chamber.
But the biggest prize remains undiscovered: Ivan the Terrible's lost library, which is said to be hidden somewhere under the Kremlin and is filled with priceless Byzantine and Hebrew scrolls.
Read more about the Diggers and their discoveries here.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
There's a new skin treatment available in New York that's based on an ancient beauty secret of Japanese geishas. It's a facial that's said to make your skin brighter and clearer, thanks to one very special ingredient. Nightingale poop. And it only costs $180 a treatment!
Geishas have apparently been slathering their faces with bird poo for centuries. Fortunately, the Shizuka Spa's modern formula has been sanitized and deodorized. But why pay $180 when you can just kidnap a pigeon?
Read more here.
Friday, June 13, 2008
You may have noticed that I don't usually post about people who've been born physically "different" from the rest of us. Although I think all human differences should be embraced, I find many such stories to be in bad taste. So I didn't write about a little Indian girl named Lakshmi when I first became aware of her existence many months ago.
See Lakshmi was born with eight limbs. The extra four belonged to what's known as a "parasitic twin"--a sister with whom Lakshmi had fused in her mother's womb. (The same condition that accounted for the case of the girl with a twin in her stomach, which I wrote about last week.)
When the news about Lakshmi first broke, she was facing a very complicated surgery, and there was a very good chance she might die. I didn't think it would be a good idea to post about her, but even then, I found her story quite moving. You see, instead of treating Lakshmi like a freak, the people of her village in India believed she was an incarnation of her namesake--the eight-limbed goddess Lakshmi (shown above)--and revered her accordingly.
Lakshmi's surgery was a success, and she's now a healthy, happy little girl. Tonight, the television show 20/20 will have a segment on the previously eight-limbed girl, and you can read more about her (and see a short video) here on the ABC News website.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Boy you guys are hard to please. Some said the last post was gross, others were disappointed because it WASN'T gross, and still others just found it depressing. So from now I'm going to focus only on the cute and the cuddly. Like the unicorn deer shown above. Soon you'll be so sick of all things warm and fuzzy that you're going to BEG me for some dead people pictures.
Today's post has to do with the most terrible topic of all: THE DEAD. More specifically, how do you know if someone's really dead? This may seem like a pretty simple question, but before the twentieth century, it wasn't always all that easy to tell. Back then, doctors didn't have our machines and computers. All they could do was take a person's pulse or monitor her breath. Sometimes it worked--and sometimes, horribly, it didn't.
Nobody knows how many people were buried before they were truly dead. But legends told of coffins exhumed to reveal scratches on the inside of the lid--or corpses with long, flowing beards. Eventually, people became so paranoid that they began to build "safety coffins." These were coffins that were rigged with breathing pipes or ropes attached to aboveground bells. (According to a fascinating article at vermonter.com, these bells may have inspired the phrases, "saved by the bell" and "dead ringer.")
Then there was the option chosen by Vermonter Timothy Smith, who died in 1893. He had a window installed in his underground crypt, which would allow him to look up at the world if he found himself buried alive. He even had a bell placed in his hand so he could alert passersby. Now imagine you're in the graveyard one night and you hear a bell begin to ring . . .
Not gruesome enough to merit my warning? There's another topic I'd like to address today. It's called post-mortem photography. Those who've seen the movie The Others (one of my favorites) will know what I'm talking about. Those of you who haven't . . . hold onto your socks.
A strange practice arose shortly after the first cameras were invented in the 1830s. People realized that a photograph would be the perfect way to remember a deceased loved one. Unfortunately, they weren't always able to take the pictures before the loved one died. So many had them taken afterwards. The results, as you might imagine, are unbelievably creepy. In fact, they're so creepy that I'm not going to post any on the blog. Those who are interested can look into the subject on the PBS website. But please make sure that neither you--nor your parents--will be too disturbed by what you see!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Meet Cinderella, a sweet little piggy whose fear of mud was conquered when her owners provided her with a set of wellies.
Awwww. What's the meaning of all this cuteness? Well as regular readers know, it means that tomorrow's post is going to be EXCEPTIONALLY gruesome. That's right. I've been saving this one up for weeks. And now that the weather has turned cooler, it's time to unleash some serious scariness!
YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!
I'm sure you'll agree that, whenever one's in a bit of a snit, there's nothing quite so satisfying as hurling a piece of fine china against the nearest wall. However, if the china one smashes belongs to someone other than oneself (grandmother, uncle, exceptionally prissy cousin), the satisfaction will not last very long.
Fortunately, artist Yarisa Kublitz has found a solution to this dilemma. She's created the world's first "Passive Aggressive Vending Machine." All you do is insert a few coins, and you receive a piece of quality china, which you're free to smash into smithereens. (If I ever find this machine, I'm choosing the cat.)
I tip my hat to Yarisa Kublitz: a true humanitarian/master of destruction, and I highly recommend a visit to the artist's website for some first-class smashing and crashing!
Monday, June 9, 2008
(Above: What we will do to the competition. By artist Li Wei.)
Can you believe it? We've been nominated for several Blogger Choice Awards, including: Best Blog About Stuff, Best Blog of All Time and The "Blogitzer".
Be sure to cast your vote! (And thanks AGAIN, Raph!)
(Photo by the great Weegee.)
How hot was it in New York today? Subway rats battled with sweaty toddlers over the right to swim in the municipal fountains. Pigeon poo patties sizzled on the sidewalks. So many fire hydrants were turned on across Manhattan that people were forced to canoe down Broadway.
I'm barely exaggerating. It's really hot.
Right now, I am sitting in my unairconditioned apartment, hoping I can type fast enough to send out this post before my computer overheats and explodes. So I don't have time for my usual displays of brilliance. Instead, I offer this list of 7 Incredible Natural Phenomena. Somehow, next to the "Everlasting Storm" and "Morocco's Climbing Goats," the first heat wave of 2008 doesn't seem that impressive.
Back tomorrow with more of the bizarre. (And a big thank you to Raph, who nominated Ananka's Diary for the 2008 Blogger Choice Awards!)
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Are you the kind of person who enjoys stomping around garbage dumps, swimming through sewage, examining maggots, or scooping up whale dung? (Really? Me, too!) Then you might want to check out MSNBC's list of the "Worst Jobs in Science." If nothing else, working your way to the top of one of these professions will make you a HUGE hit at cocktail parties. (Who wants to talk to another lawyer when there's a whale dung researcher in the room?)
Check out the list here. (Those of you who blush at frank discussions of elephant anatomy should probably skip #3. But just remember--it's SCIENCE! You can't go around blushing if you intend to save the world!)
On a somewhat related note, Newsweek magazine has an interesting article about the growing number of "Nerd Girls"--girls who are just as comfortable in engineering and science classes as they are in high heels. (This is news? Maybe the author of the article needs a copy of Kiki Strike!)
Friday, June 6, 2008
Each time it rains, some of the stones in central Romania display an unusual--some might say disturbing--behavior. Strange round swellings begin to appear all over them. Little by little, the nodules get bigger and bigger. Watch the stones long enough, and you'll realize . . . they're growing. Called trovants, the bizarre growing stones have been known to reach over thirty feet in height.
How does it happen? Find out here.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
(Photo above from psfk.)
"Brimming with lime-hued succulents and a lush collection of agaves, one shooting spiky leaves 10 feet into the air, it's a head-turning garden smack in the middle of Long Beach's asphalt jungle. But the gardener who designed it doesn't want you to know his last name, since his handiwork isn't exactly legit. It's on a traffic island he commandeered."
Guerilla gardening. I've never been more delighted to see two words brought together! According to the LA Times, there's a growing movement of people who've started planting gardens on public land. They're taking over traffic islands and empty lots--or any urban space that could use a little green.
Much of their work is done under cover of night, when the authorities aren't watching. (You'd be surprised by the problems a few pretty plants can cause.) As traffic streams by, they take out their shovels or pelt neglected land with seed bombs. They leave behind little gardens that make the city a more enjoyable place to live.
You can read the original article (which includes handy tips for making seed bombs) here or check out the guerilla gardening movement right here in New York!
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
The No-Contact Jacket (shown above) is a stylish way to keep the bad guys away. A mesh of electric armor lies just beneath the outer shell of the jacket. Whenever it's activated by the wearer, 80,000 volts of current deliver a painful shock. Anyone grasping the garment will instantly lose his balance and become disorientated. It won't kill an attacker--it'll just give him a little something to remember you by.
Apparently, these jackets have been around for a few years. Why don't I have one! (Though it might not be a good idea to wear one around New York--you're always bumping into people.)
Find out more here.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Superhuman Memory: Forty-two-year-old Jill Price remembers every single moment of every day of her entire life.
The Human Magnet: Aurel Raileanu can make spoons, irons, and television sets stick to his chest.
One Nasty Stomach Ache: When a nine-year-old Greek girl was taken to the hospital after experiencing abdominal pains, her twin sister was discovered inside her stomach. (No, she didn't eat her.)
The Exploding Grandma: Mavis Price claims that her body causes electrical equipment go haywire or explode. The television crackles whenever she walks past, and her touch makes people's hair stand on end.
The 256-Year-Old Man: Did the Chinese herbalist and martial artist, Li Ching-Yuen, die at age 256? (Below: I don't think he looks a day over 175.)
Monday, June 2, 2008
A friend of mine used to make fun of me because I check behind the clothes in my closet before I go to bed each night. After reading this post, she may not find my little quirk so amusing after all.
Not long ago, a Tokyo man noticed that the food in his refrigerator was mysteriously disappearing. So he set up surveillance cameras around his apartment and sent the video feeds to his cell phone.
One day, the cameras captured a dark figure slinking through his house. He called the police, who found the doors and windows locked from the inside--and no sign of a burglar. Still, they decided to search the house. When they got to the closet, they made an unexpected discovery. Inside, they found a woman curled up on her side. But she wasn't a burglar. She had been LIVING in the man's closet for almost an entire year.
How could this happen? Well, people in Japan sleep on futons. During the day, they often roll-up the futons and put them inside a closet. For this reason, Japanese closets tend to be particularly dark and deep. The woman claimed she'd snuck into the man's apartment one day when he accidentally left his door unlocked. During the day when he was at work, she would come out to shower and eat.
Read more here!
(Below: A typical Japanese closet.)
Sunday, June 1, 2008
On Friday reporters gathered in Denver, Colorado to view an unusual film that was shot in July 2003. The video is said to show an extraterrestrial peeping through a window at two teenage girls. (Because that's how aliens like to spend their time after traveling light years to reach Earth.)
According to those who saw the video, "The bald, whitish 'being' with an elliptical head and big black eyes is seen in the video peering just over a windowsill, blinking, looking around and then going down, out of view. The creature raised its head several times but no other parts of its body is seen."
Unfortunately, the public won't see the video until it's been examined by experts and featured in a documentary. However, some "experts" who attended the showing say that the creature did not look like a puppet--and the video shows no signs of being doctored.
Very intriguing! Read more here.
UPDATE: See the video below. Question: Why is it clearly a different room? Was the photo above just a cheesy teaser? I don't get it.
NEW UPDATE: It's a video created to show how easily a film of this sort can be faked.