Saturday, August 1, 2009


Creative cremains The company that makes diamonds out of human cremains can also make them out of human hair, and has announced plans to produce and sell diamonds from a lock of hair that belonged to the recently deceased Michael Jackson.

Maps featured in paintings I received an e-mail reply from Jonathan Janson after featuring his site in this post. He thanked me for the citation and words of enthusiasm, and mentioned that his own work will be in a show at the O.K. Harris Gallery in New York in October. In other map news, Danish experts have declared that the Vinland Map , the first known map to show part of America before Italian explorer Christopher Colombus (c. 1451-1506) landed on the continent, is genuine.

Steampunk design Follower Carrie Hoggan loved this post and was pleased to link me to this site by a man who does impressive steampunk modifications and breeds cuttlefish! (Like the octopus, the cuttlefish is a cephalopod.)

Pangolins Reader Kathleen Kotcher visited China in 2008 and reports that she did not see anyone eating a pangolin. She sent along this photo and writes, "It would be difficult to eat this pangolin...but I too share the love."

Oscar Mayer dies In a follow-up to this post, I noted that the wienermobile had been in an accident. Less than a month later, Oscar Mayer has made the news 3 more times! The company violated a state ban on vehicular advertising when they sent the wienermobile to Hawaii for 2 weeks. They were named in a lawsuit by the Cancer Project, a vegan advocacy group that wants warning labels placed on hot dogs. And they have received a letter from PETA encouraging them to bury the wienermobile with Mr. Mayer...

Madame Tussaud Members of the African-American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha are suing to oust their president Barbara McKinzie for misappropriating funds, including commissioning a $900,ooo wax figure of herself. This amount seemed excessive to me, and I was right - Madame Tussaud's wax figures cost between $200,000 and $300,000 each to produce.

Believe It or Not! Readers may not be aware that there is an on-line contest called You Bet Their Life, in which participants win a share of a cash prize based on the celebrities they correctly guess will die during the coming year.

Happy Father's Day! Since hanging up the birdfeeder I sent my Dad for Father's Day, he hasn't seen any finches. He references this story about the bust of a finch-fighting ring and the siezure of as many as 150 birds, and asks, "Maybe that's where my finches are?"

OldtimerHenry Allingham, featured in this post, passed on his title of "World's Oldest Man" when he died earlier this month. The honor now goes to Montana resident Walter Breuning, age 112.

Elusive animals The New York Times reports that although humans are the cause of mass extinctions, we are also in the middle of the age of discovery for mammals, with 400 or so new species described and added to the list just since 2005.

Clown's funeral Members of the San Francisco Clown Conservatory have posed in the nude for a calendar that is being sold to help fight Multiple Sclerosis (the disease that I have). They hope to raise $1 million.

Whales, articulated and dismantled This story of a cruise ship docking in Canada with a dead whale pinned to the bow was all over the weird news last Sunday, but I have found 2 other incidences in Alaska - one a cruise ship and the other an oil tanker - plus the statistics of whales being struck by ships.

Scrabble creator When I was looking at these creative gravestones, I thought that a similar Scrabble marker (pictured) ought to mark the grave of the game's inventor, Alfred Butts (1899-1993). Note that there is also a gravestone with a crossword puzzle theme.

Chihuahuas in the weird news Yet more chihuahua news to report... "Gidget," who became famous for her appearance in a series of Taco Bell commercials, has died at the age of 15. Her trainer said, "She always knew where the camera was." And in Dearborn, Michigan, 112 live chihuahuas were rescued from the home of a hoarder, who had 150 dogs in his freezer.

Accidental fossil discoveries A flurry of fossil news: Researchers have identified a 260 million-year-old fossil found in Russia in 1994 (pictured) as the earliest tree-dwelling creature. Scientists studying the Yangtze Gorge in China have determined that the oldest fossils are found in lakes, rather than oceans - where lifeforms were believed to have evolved. Fishermen trawling off the coast of the Netherlands hooked a bone that came from the forehead of a caveman. And the fossils of extinct birds have been found in Hawaii.

Animals and lightning I received a viral video of a group of musicians simulating a thunderstorm and was very impressed, but the performance was not identified in any way. I managed to find the entire video and information about the choir, Perpetuum Jazzile, which is from Slovenia.

Robo-animals An orphaned baby Asian elephant named "Chhouk," crippled by a poacher's snare, has been outfitted with a prosthetic foot and can now walk again because of his discovery and care by a Cambodian rescue center.

Big fish, big snake A snake named "Ann" - who was fed a whole hog every 2 or 3 months - has died at the Memphis Zoo. Her feedings drew many visitors during her 10-year tenure. Ann was a reticulated python captured in Indonesia.

Stonework I love environmental art like that of American artist Andy Goldsworthy. Here are some beautiful works created at the beach in San Francisco by another American artist Andres Amador.

Disturbing decapitations It was reported earlier this month that the Dutch have repatriated the severed head of a Ghanaian chief. Leader of the Ahanta tribe, King Bada Bonsu II had been decapitated 171 years ago by Maj. Gen. Jan Verveer in retaliation for the killing of 2 Dutch emmissaries.

Auroras Norwegian researchers have proved by examining NASA images that the Aurora Borealis and the Aurora Australis, which were thought to be mirror images of one another, can be completely assymmetrical.

Birds and dogs Joggers on holiday in Helmsford, Cornwall, U.K. - 36-year-old Stuart Urquhart (pictured) and 19-year-old Eleanor Dennis - have been attacked by a buzzard while on their runs. In other big bird news, India has become the first country to successfully breed the endangered slender-billed vulture in captivity.

Happy Thanksgiving! The look of this rare albino turtle found on the shore of China's Yellow River has been compared to a plucked turkey. Unlike in parts of Africa superstitious and discriminatory toward albinos, they have a special place in Chinese culture. Meanwhile, some of the albino-murderers in Burundi have received prison time.

Italy itinerary If you follow the link to La Specola on this post, you will see the most famous collection of anatomical waxes. In this audio slideshow, you will see and hear about the anatomical wax models and moulages in the Wellcome Collection in London.

The Raft of the Medusa If you have a weak stomach, read no further. Cannibalism is supposedly the newest trend to sweep across Japan. This goes beyond shaping food into a body that can then be eaten and involves preparing meals that include human tissue obtained - with the government's stamp of approval - from hospitals.

Nadar and the Paris Catacombs The Exeter City Council in Devon, U.K., identified the catacombs at St. Bartholomew's Cemetery - a popular tourist attraction - as a potential temporary mortuary for victims of the H1N1 virus should the need arise.

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