Your vote, Sir?

When Jeremy Bentham, the "Father of Utilitarianism," died, in 1832, he willed his body to the University College Hospital in London. However, it was willed on the condition that his "dear friend Doctor Southwood Smith" would preserve his body in the manner shown in the picture above. In Bentham's own words: "The skeleton he will cause to be put together in such a manner as that the whole figure may be seated in a chair usually occupied by me when living, in the attitude in which I am sitting when engaged in thought in the course of time employed in writing."
For years, Bentham carried around the glass eyes he hoped would go inside his mummified head. While Bentham's head was mummified, it deteriorated rapidly and a wax head was put on his skeleton instead. However, in 1975, student kidnapped Bentham's real head, demanding a £100 ransom for charity. The college eventually paid £10 and Bentham's head was placed at his feet (see picture above).
Bentham also wished for his body to be present at all board meetings, and tradition has it, that when there is a tied vote, Bentham votes favorably for the motion.
Source. Source.

Welcome Back


In the 1931 movie Skippy, 9-year-old Jackie Cooper had 3 crying scenes but had trouble crying on cue. One of the scenes involved a dog. The director Norman Taurog, also Jackie's uncle, had a security guard take the dog out of sight. When Norman threatened to have the dog shot, Jackie stayed dried-eyed, so Norman arranged to have a pistol shot heard. After the shot, Norman said, "The policeman has shot your dog. . . [because] [y]ou're more interested in the dog than you are in your work." After capturing Jackie's flood of tears on camera, they gave him ice cream. For his role, Jackie was nominated for an Oscar. Not surprisingly, he is quoted as saying, "No amount of rationalization, no excuses, can make up for what a kid loses -- what I lost -- when a normal childhood is abandoned for a movie career."
Source source

My appologies


Because of Christmas, I am taking a few days off from blogging. After Christmas, I will of course resume. So a very merry Christmas to all, and be sure to come back after it.
If you are insistent on reading my blog over my mini-vacation, I chose to highlight my favorite post from each week. The oldest posts are at the top.

adrenoline and shirts



Ever heard of extreme ironing? Apparently, it "combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt." Some places where ironing has been done: the exact center of the Antarctic, 137m (450 ft) underwater, Mt. Everest, a nudist beach, in caves, while rock climbing, while jumping off a rock face, while hang gliding and while bog snorkeling. In case you are wondering, the irons are battery-powered. Here is a video of extreme ironing and here is a photo gallery from the official site.

paranoid?

Haven't you ever wanted to drive someone insane with postcards? Well here is the e-bay auction for you. According to the description, three postcards (one from 1995 and one from 1996) will be sent by the seller from Poland to your "friend." They will be "rant ravingly insane," but filled with personal details about your friend, thanks to your information. And of course, the signature will be illegible. It is currently selling for $185.
Humorist Brian Sack is the person behind it. Thanks to SNAFU-ed. . . Situation Normal (Situation normal, for people who don't think at all ... and offbeat news, for the rest of us ...) for this post idea.

sniff sniff


  • Lynda and David Taylor were separating after three years of marriage, and Lynda was upset when David refused to give her half of the money and the house. So she took her revenge. She sprayed perfume on herself and her daughter. She sprayed Lysol and bug killer around the house. She burned scented candles. She plugged in scented air fresheners. And she emptied lavender sachets. While this may not seem all that severe, Lynda was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. You see, David had multiple chemical sensitivity, and her actions caused him to be "very ill with severe brain fog, headache, numbness and trembling and pain throughout [his] body so severe [he] could barely move." Before this incident, his condition had earned him $150,000 in worker's compensation. Source.
And a big Thank you to the ever-gracious Rusin Roundup for this award. I have to admit, I really like it because I like pirates, and the pictures has a bit of a pirate-y air. I always have a hard time trying to decide who to pass awards on to, so I chose people I hadn't awarded or tagged before. Thus, I would like to pass this award on to:
  • Grillman and Luna for flattering my vanity with a lovely welcome to their blog, and teaching me about Santa.
  • AY@tes for making me double-check every time I write his screen-name and earning an impressive 99% nerd score. (I only scored an 80%).
  • And I Beati because I was not feeling very cheerful today, and the cute pictures on her blog made me melt into a pile of simpering goo.

Do you take yourself for better or worse?


Ever get tired of searching for that perfect someone who understands you? Why not stop the search and marry yourself?

  • Liu Ye of China married a cutout of himself wearing a bridal dress. (Pictured above.) He says: "There are many reasons for marrying myself, but mainly to express my dissatisfaction with reality. This marriage makes me whole again. . . [I'm not gay, but I am] maybe a bit narcissistic." Source.
  • While Dutch artist Jennifer Hoes also married herself, she does not rule out a possible future marriage. She married herself to embrace her own life and believes that the values of an individual's life are the same as in a marriage. In answer to the question we are all wondering: "The wedding night I spent alone and slept like a baby. . . Unfortunately I had no money for a honeymoon, that would have been nice and welcome after the hard work." She argues that her marriage was not a publicity stunt: "I don’t make a distinction between my life and work. . . The wedding, as something of heart and mind, is just as relevant to my work as a cast of my nipples." Source.
  • Kevin Nadal of New York is a "Filipino-American gay performance artist" who married himself to protest culture's discrimination against singles, specifically women and gay men. He told his parents that he was having a birthday party. Kevin was very pleased with the wedding: "I got a DVD recorder, a nose-hair trimmer, kitchenware, Martini glasses, and a back massager. . . Oh, and I registered for male pornographic magazines, and got those too. I did well." Source.

Nicetown


  • In 1996, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) turned their attention to the town of Fishkill. Because they believed it evoked "violent imagery of dead fish," they wanted its name changed to Fishsave. However, the town declined, pointing out that in the original Dutch, "Fishkill" is "Fish stream."
  • In 2003, PETA offered $15,000 of vegetarian patties to the town of Hamburg, NY, if they changed their name to Veggieburg. PETA's reason: "The town's name conjures up visions of unhealthy patties of ground-up dead cows. . . I hope they get a little chuckle about it, and then I hope they think about it. . . Our offer is serious as a heart attack." Hamburg declined the offer.
Source

shhhhhhhh!

To be fair, for this post I could just include white space and nothing else. However...

Composer John Cage's piece 4'33" is basically 4 minutes, 33 seconds of complete silence. But supporters of Cage would argue that the experience is different for each listener and the piece includes the sounds of the environment it is played in. Composed in 1952, it can be played by any combination of instruments. Cage explained his piece by saying: "[W]hatever we we are[,] what we mostly hear is noise."

When Mike Batt composed A One Minute Silence, Cage's estate sued him. While Batt payed an undisclosed 6-figure amount to the John Cage trust, he retorted: "Mine is a much better silent piece. I have been able to say in one minute what Cage could only say in four minutes and 33 seconds."

Here you can see 4'33" performed with a full orchestra. While there is a conductor, he only lifts his baton to give the downbeat at the start of each of the three movements, and occasionally turns pages. Here you can see it preformed by a solo piano who closes the piano lid and sits quietly with a stopwatch. If you are interested in Cage but don't have a large tolerance for silence, you might be interested to see an early work of his called Water Works. Here is is part of Cage's piano sonatinas. Be forewarned, they sound very different than what one is used to.

Source. Source.

A few blips of science (reader discretion warned)

Here are a few oddish blips to ponder (Reader discretion is advised):

  • Recognize the sheep above? Well it is not an ordinary sheep. It is 15% human, having a sheep body and half-human organs. It is the result of £5million and 7 years of research by Professor Esmail Zanjani of the University of Nevada. He created the sheep by injecting cells from human adults into the fetus of sheep. In the future, he hopes to use these sheep for organ transplants. He would inject stem cells from a donor's bone marrow into a sheep fetus, and in two months there would be a transplantable liver, lung and brain. Source
  • Twins are either identical or fraternal, right? Wrong. There is a pair of semi-identical twins. They are identical on their mother's side but only half-identical on their father's side. This means that two sperms fertilized one egg which split. While one of the children is male, the other one is a hermaphrodite, with "both ovarian and testicular tissue." However, genetically, both children have some male and female cells. While their identities are anonymous, they are reported to be healthy and happy toddlers in the US. Source
  • Surgeon Vladimir Petrovich Demikhov, chief of the organ-transplanting laboratory of the Soviet Academy of Medical Sciences, ran experiments. In one, he transplanted the head and forelegs of a puppy onto the neck of an adult dog. The puppy "kept its own personality," lapping up milk and yelping. The adult dog first tried to shake the puppy off of its neck, but soon grew reconciled. They both died after 6 days, but other dogs in his series of experiments stayed alive for 2 1/2 months. Here is a movie clip that shows his experiment. Source.
  • The above scientist inspired a US scientist Dr. White who attached the living brain of one dog to the neck of another dog. the brain stayed alive for several days prompting the question: With the brain being alive, what was it experiencing? Mr. White then moved on to head transplants using rhesus monkeys. While the head acted on its own, it was impossible to connect all the nerve threads, so it was paralyzed from the neck down. He predicted that in the future, brain dead patients could donate their bodies for the heads of paraplegics. Source
  • Researching LSD in 1962, the psychiatrist Louis Jolyon West and Chester M Pierce of the University of Oklahoma injected LSD into a male elephant. they believed that LSD would make an elephant go into musth: a condition where elephants "run berserk for a period of about two weeks, during which time {they] may attack or attempt to attack anything in [their] path." They gave a male elephant named Tusko enough LSD for 3,000 people. Sensing Tusko's distress, his mate rushed to his side and tried to support the swaying elephant. 5 minutes later, Tusko collapsed, and approximately 2 hours later he was dead. West and Pierce's take: "It appears that the elephant is highly sensitive to the effects of LSD - a finding which may prove to be valuable in elephant-control work in Africa." Source
  • In the 1930s, Robert Cornish of the University of California tried to use seesaws to raise the dead. Injecting adrenaline and anti-coagulants into fox terriers he named Lazarus, 6 minutes after their death he would place them on a seesaw. While some did revive, they experienced blindness and brain damage before dying again within a few hours. He moved on to trying to revive 3 men dead for 5-6 hours. He had no luck. Source.

Spare Change


  • This 72,000 square-foot house is listed at $165 million, the highest ever asking price for an American residential property. It includes 41 bedrooms, 8 fireplaces, 29 bedrooms, 3 swimming pools, 22 foot arched ceilings and 1 disco. The house, featured in The Godfather and The Bodyguard, is from the 1920s and sold in 1947 for $120,000. With a view listed as "canyon, pool, treetop," it includes 6.25 acres in the vicinity of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and David and Victoria Beckham.
To put things in perspective:
  • It would take an estimated 10 hours to quickly clean all of the bathrooms.
  • Other things that cost $165 million: A Boeing 787 Dreamliner Passenger Jet and NASA's Mars Polar Lander.
  • Half the world lives on under two dollars a day.
  • Every second child lives in poverty and 1.4 million children die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation
If you like this post, check out one of my older posts including a $14,000 diamond-studded tea bag here.

And by the way, thanks for your patience. I haven't posted recently because of finals week.

Sources: Dec 07 Reader's Digest, poverty facts

Square-y


Square watermelons were invented in 2001 by a Japanese farmer concerned about consumers not being able to fit the fruit into their fridge. There is no genetic changes in the watermelon, they are simply grown inside a box, and assume the box's shape. The square watermelons end up in the exact dimensions to fit comfortably into a Japanese refrigerator. In Japan they cost a bit more, however, at about $82, three times that of a normal watermelon. Recently, Tesco in the UK (a kind of UK WalMart) has started selling these for around £5, importing them from Brazil. And also recently, an agriculture and applied biotechnology student from Vietnam has produced square watermelons for the lunar New Year. During this time, watermelons are offered to ancestors. The ideal offering is a regular watermelon paired with a square one, as a square represents the earth and a circle represents the sun.
Source. Source.

Fido?!


Artist Karl-Friedrich Lentze is planning on opening the world's first brothel for dogs. Stationed in Berlin, the brothel will charge $32 and will include Lentze's Jack Russel Tarrier acting as the door-dog. Lentze sees it as art: "It's a form of satire that criticizes society. I used to paint and create sculptures, this is just the next step."

Other artistic endeavors of his include:

  • He sued the Easter Bunny for causing addiction to chocolate. Lentze said: "The Easter Bunny is a sadistic and unscrupulous offender who preys on people's sweet tooth."
  • He got permission from the Bonn city council to be buried with a biodegradable inflated sex doll.
  • He applied for a patent for his devise to straighten bananas. He explained it as: "Depending on the degree of the curve, chunks will be cut out of the banana, which will then be bound back together using biologically safe bandages.
Source. Source. Source. Source.

ho-ha


Westaff, Australia's largest supplier of Santa Clauses, has instructed their Santas to say "ha, ha, ha" this Christmas. A former Santa employee reported that Westaff was concerned about Santa's traditional "ho, ho, ho" being derogatory to women. Says an anonymous Santa: "As far as I'm concerned, a hoe is something you dig the ground with."
Westaff has fended off these allegations by claiming that :"[I]n some cases the little kids can get a little bit scared of the deep ho, ho, hos." Bill Muehlenberg retorted with: "Potentially any big guy in a red suit with a white beard is scary but I don't think him saying 'ho ho ho' would damage a child's psyche."
Source.

Irony


In Houston, Texas, after passing a student-driving test, the driver crashed his car into the Texas Department of Public Safety.
source

What time is it?

don't play with your food


Apparently, there is a First Viennese Vegetable Orchestra. They play about 20-30 concerts a year and have 11 musicians, 1 video person and 1 sound technician. And yes, all of their instruments are made out of actual vegetables: "carrot flutes, pumpkin basses, leek violins, leek-zucchini-vibrators, cucumberophones and celery bongos." After the end of each performance, the vegetables are made into a soup and served to the audience.

Here is a video of a performance. Here is an audio clip. And here are pictures of their instruments.