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21 Dumbest Criminals of the 21st Century (So Far)

Poor Man’s Hummer
Jonesville, Virginia:
William Anderson, 51, was arrested after attracting attention by applying for welfare at the department of social services while driving an H2 Hummer. Thinking it an odd sight, the local sheriff ran the plates, and the vehicle came up as stolen.

franksingleton 150x150 21 Dumbest Criminals of the 21st Century (So Far)Repeat Offender
West Palm Beach, Florida:
Things were looking up for Frank Singleton, 21, as he was released from jail. However, when he realized that he didn’t have a ride home, he walked straight into the prison parking lot and attempted to carjack a woman. He was foiled when he realized that he couldn’t drive a car with a stick shift. As he was re-arrested — this time, for felony carjacking — Singleton told police that he simply “didn’t feel like walking.”

Now Hiring
Athens, Georgia:
Demetrius Robinson, 28, wanted to rob a Golden Pantry store late one night, but he needed to pass the time as naturally as possible until he and the clerk were alone, so he decided to fill out a job application. Not a bad idea, except he left his real name on the application, along with his uncle’s phone number. After he robbed the store, it didn’t take long for police to track him down. He didn’t get the job.

chriskron 150x150 21 Dumbest Criminals of the 21st Century (So Far)Worst. Burglar. Ever.
Fort Myers Beach, Florida: Amateur criminal and professional dimwit Christopher Kron created his own personal “how not to commit burglary” instructional video when he tried to rob a restaurant after closing one night. Mistake #1: He tripped the alarm when he broke in. Mistake #2: He failed to flee after hearing the (not silent) alarm. Mistake #3: When ADT called the restaurant after being notified of the alarm, Kron answered the phone. Mistake #4: He gave the ADT employee his real name. Mistake #5: When he finally got the bright idea to leave, all he took was a bottle of Grand Marnier and a beer. Mistake #6: Having gotten away with the crime, he returned to the restaurant the next day and was recognized by an employee who had seen the surveillance video. Kron was arrested on the spot.

Dumb in an Elevator
Oslo, Norway: Two men in their early 20s (age and IQ) decided to vandalize an elevator in a train station by violently kicking the closed doors…while they were still inside. The doors jammed, and the elevator stopped, sounding an alarm that alerted security guards. The guards tried to lower the elevator, but the doors jammed even more, so they called the police and the fire department. The two vandals were eventually freed — and promptly arrested. Their actions were recorded on the elevator’s security camera.

Keep Your Eye on the Road
Osternarke, Sweden: A 56-year-old woman’s boldly dumb defense in her trial for drunken driving was that the alcohol did not affect her driving because she kept one eye closed to avoid seeing double. She was sentenced to two months in prison.

randylewis 150x150 21 Dumbest Criminals of the 21st Century (So Far)World’s Greatest Dad
Bristol, Tennessee:
In his stunted way of thinking, Randy Lewis, 43, was at least trying to be responsible by not driving drunk during a beer run. Instead, he had his 10-year-old son drive. The boy proceeded to crash the car at an estimated 90 miles per hour. The elder Lewis had not only a blood-alcohol content of over three times the state limit, but he also had cocaine in his system — not to mention two other children in the vehicle. Lewis was charged with drunk driving, reckless endangerment and child abuse and was booked wearing a t-shirt reading “Buy this dad a beer.”

Note to Self
Marysville, California: Arthur Cheney, 64, was arrested after police spotted him driving a car that resembled one used in a local bank robbery. Something told them that they had their man when they noticed a yellow Post-It note on the car’s center console with a handwritten message reading, “Robbery – 100s and 50s only.”

krystianbala 150x150 21 Dumbest Criminals of the 21st Century (So Far)A Novel Approach
Wroclaw, Poland: Polish author Krystian Bala, 34, might’ve gotten away with murder…if he hadn’t written about it in his book. His 2003 novel Amok became a beststeller in Poland, but he paid the price when police noticed that the details of a murder in the book eerily matched those of an unsolved 2000 case. The similarities led the police to investigate further, discovering connections between Bala and the victim, including the fact that the victim was romantically involved with Bala’s ex-wife. Although it wasn’t proven that the author was the sole perpetrator, he was sentenced to 25 years in jail for his part in the crime.

Pee Bandits
Crescent City, California:
Krystal Evans, 26, and Denise McClure, 24, were arrested for destruction of evidence when they sifted through a DHL delivery van looking for Evans’ probation-mandatory urine sample that was on its way to a forensic lab. The pair knew that Evans’ sample would test positive, meaning she’d be sent back to jail, so they attempted to grab the urine before it reached its destination. The driver, however, caught them and called the cops. Ironically, Evans’ sample tested negative, but the sample she had to give after being arrested for the pee caper came up positive for meth.

charlesfuller 21 Dumbest Criminals of the 21st Century (So Far)Billion Dollar Dummy
Dallas, Texas: Rule #1 of trying to cash a bogus check: make it out for a reasonable amount. Charles Ray Fuller, 21, broke that rule and all conventions of common sense when he tried to cash a check for 360 BILLION DOLLARS. To top it off, the check wasn’t even made out to him. He was arrested on forgery charges.

Tattoo Clue
Billings, Montana:
A wanted man with an unusual surname was arrested after police noticed the name tattooed on the side of his head. Officers working on a separate case happened to walk past Sterling F. Wolfname, 26, when they saw the word “Wolfname” tattooed on his head. The name matched that of a suspect in a fatal beating in Wyoming. Wolfname lied about his identity, but his tattoo gave police a “heads up.”

andrewlibby 150x150 21 Dumbest Criminals of the 21st Century (So Far)“Porn Inspector”? Nice try.
Longmont, Colorado: Andrew Libby, 33, was arrested for impersonating a cop and demanding copies of pornographic movies from an adult video store. Claiming to be an “age verification detective,” Libby told the store’s employees that his job was to make sure the movies’ stars were at least 18 years old. The workers didn’t buy his story (his Fabio hair probably didn’t help).

Bills, Bills, Bills
Brooklyn, New York: As Victor Marin, 20, was stealing $218 in cash from an apartment he had broken into, for some reason he decided to take out his own wallet and lay it on a bed. When he left, he forgot something — wait for it — his wallet! When Marin returned minutes later, the apartment’s resident was back. Standing outside, Marin offered to return the money in exchange for his wallet, which contained his ID and credit cards. The victim told him to stuff the money under the front door, but since the wad included 93 dollar bills, it was too tall to fit, and Marin had difficulty shoving the bills inside. That gave police time to show up and arrest him.

johnpearce 150x150 21 Dumbest Criminals of the 21st Century (So Far)Hangman
Dartford, England: John Pearce, 32, came to realize the hazards of daylight burglary when in the course of climbing through a window, his foot got caught in the window, leaving him dangling upside-down in plain sight of pedestrians walking down the busy sidewalk. Onlookers proceeded to mock him mercilessly until police arrived.

Dial-a-Dealer
Gulfport, Florida:
Shaquille McKinney, 14, decided to try his hand at telemarketing. Trouble is, he was selling drugs, and the potential buyer turned out to be a policeman. When McKinney cold-called Detective Matt Parks, the cop told him he had the wrong number. Before hanging up, the teen asked Parks if he wanted to buy drugs. The policeman agreed to meet in a nearby parking lot, where McKinney was arrested.

henryearl 150x150 21 Dumbest Criminals of the 21st Century (So Far)1,000 Strikes?
Lexington, Kentucky: If there’s a lifetime achievement award for petty crime, Henry Earl would win hands-down. Since 1970, he’s been arrested a whopping 1,333 times (and counting), although he serves an average of less then four days per offense. Dumb or  dedicated? You be the judge.

Ice Cream Men
La Plata, Maryland: Wesley Jumper, 36, and Shawn Stewart, 36, are apparently very dirty and very stupid. How else could you explain their decision to 1) steal $500 worth of soap and shampoo from a CVS drug store, and 2) use a Good Humor ice cream truck as their getaway vehicle. The truck, which Stewart used for day job, was easy enough for the police to spot, and the men were promptly arrested. No word on what happened to the confiscated Nutty Buddies.

Drunk Driving Test
Bendorf, Germany: A 27-year-old man arrived for his road driving test smelling of alcohol. Although he insisted to the instructor that he hadn’t had anything to drink, he proceeded to drive erratically, at which point the instructor directed him to pull into a parking lot…at a police station. The man was booked for driving with a blood-alcohol content of three times the legal limit. And he failed the test.

eloisereaves 150x150 21 Dumbest Criminals of the 21st Century (So Far)This Crack’s Wack
Hawthorne, Florida:
Eloise Reaves, 50, stretched the limits of “to serve and protect” when she approached a policeman and asked him to help her get her money back for the poor-quality crack cocaine she’d just purchased. She showed him the crack, which she had tucked away in her mouth, and he placed her under arrest. The accused salesman was not charged.

Dear Dummy…
Boyds, Maryland:
While awaiting trial for murder and armed robbery, inmate Quinton Thomas sent a friendly letter to a chum suggesting that he kill any witnesses who were planning to testify against him. He figured he could be so bold because he knew that the prison staff didn’t screen outgoing mail. However, he must’ve sent the letter to the wrong address or affixed the wrong postage, because it was sent back “Return to Sender,” making it INCOMING mail, which IS screened by the staff. He was convicted on three new counts — one of solicitation to commit murder and two of witness intimidation — in addition to the original charges.

10 Facts About Diamond You Should Know

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one.
– Confucius

diamonds 10 Facts About Diamond You Should Know

There’s no denying that diamonds are a traditional symbol of romance and love. Why, a man needs a diamond ring to ask the woman of his dream to marry him, right? But was it always that way? Did you know that someone worked very, very hard to make diamond rings de rigueur in marriage proposals? Or that diamonds aren’t actually very rare at all? Or that they make lousy investments?

Here 10 Facts About Diamonds You Should Know:

1. The Earliest Use of Diamonds: Polishing Axes

ceremonial burial axe 147x150 10 Facts About Diamond You Should KnowIf you ask a hundred people what they think of first when they hear the word “diamond,” I bet you get 99 who say a diamond engagement ring.

Truth is, the majority of diamonds mined today are used for industrial purposes – and that may also be the very first use of diamonds by humans.

Harvard physicist Peter Lu and colleagues found that ancient Chinese used diamonds to polish ceremonial burial axes in the late stone age or over 4,500 years ago.

The axes, which are made from corundum (or ruby in its red form and sapphire in other colors), were polished to a mirror finish. Corundum is the second hardest naturally occurring substance on Earth and close examination of these axes revealed that they could’ve been made only with diamond abrasives.

It’s quite fitting since today, 80% of mined diamonds (about 100 million carats) are used for the industrial purposes of cutting, drilling, grinding, and polishing.

2. Diamonds Are Not The Hardest Substance on Earth

aggregated diamond nanorods 10 Facts About Diamond You Should Know“Diamonds are the hardest substance on Earth” is practically a mantra for jewelers trying to impress you with its physical properties if you’re not swayed by its beauty. Too bad it’s not true: while diamonds are the hardest natural mineral substance, it is not the hardest substance known to man.

In 2005, physicists Natalia Dubrovinskaia and colleagues compressed carbon fullerene molecules and heating them at the same time to create a series of interconnected rods called Aggregated Diamond Nanorods (ADNRs or “hyperdiamond”). It’s about 11% harder than a diamond

3. De Beers: The Diamond Cartel

cecil rhodes 150x150 10 Facts About Diamond You Should KnowWe can’t talk about diamonds without talking about De Beers, the company that single-handedly made the diamond industry what it is today. De Beers was founded by Cecil Rhodes, who also founded the state of Rhodesia which later became Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Rhodes Scholarship is also named after him, and funded by his estate.

Rhodes started by renting water pumps to miners during a diamond rush in 1867 at Kimberley, South Africa. He expanded into mines and about twenty years later became the sole owner of all diamond mining operations in the country.

Rhodes built De Beers into a diamond cartel (well, they prefer “single-channel marketing” and since they’re one company, they’re technically a monopoly). De Beers mines diamonds, then handle their sales and distribution through various entities (in London, it’s known as the innocuously named Diamond Trading Company; in Israel, it’s simply called “the syndicate”; in Belgium, it’s called the CSO or Central Selling Organization.)

If you want to buy diamonds from De Beers, you’ve got to play by their rules: diamond are sold in events known as “sights.” There are 10 sights held each year, and to buy, you have to be a sightholder (these are usually diamond dealers whose business is to have the stones cut and polished and then resold at diamond clearing centers of Antwerp, New York, and Tel Aviv).

The diamonds are sold on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. A sightholder is given a small box of uncut diamonds priced between $1 and $25 million. De Beers set the price – there is no haggling and no re-selling of diamonds in uncut form. It is rare for sightholders to refuse a diamond package offered to them, for fear of not being invited back. And those who dare to purchase diamonds from other sources than De Beers will have their sightholder privilege revoked.

In the early days, De Beers controlled about 90% of the world’s diamond supply. Today, its monopoly on diamonds has been significantly reduced. It is estimated that the cartel now controls about 60 to 75% of the world’s diamond trade

4. So Why The Name ‘De Beers’?

De Beers was actually named for the brothers Johannel Nicholas de Beer and Diederik Arnoldus de Beer, whose farm Cecil Rhodes bought when diamond mines were discovered on it.

5. Are Diamonds Rare?

uncut diamond 10 Facts About Diamond You Should KnowDiamonds are actually quite rare in the past but not any more. While it’s true that the process of extracting diamond is quite laborious (mines move many tons of dirt per carat of diamond found) and that gem-quality diamonds are relatively few (only about 1 in 1 million diamonds are quality one carat stones, only 1 in 5 million are 2-carat; and 1 in 15 million are 3-carat), diamonds are not rare in an economic sense because supply exceeds demand.

To maintain the high prices of diamonds, De Beers creates an artificial scarcity: they stockpile mined diamonds and sell them in small amounts.

Perhaps De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer said it best: “diamonds are intrinsically worthless, except for the deep psychological need they fill.” (mental_floss, vol 7 issue 6, p. 21 “Diamond Engagement Rings” by Rebecca Zerzan)

6. Moon-Sized Diamond

diamond star 10 Facts About Diamond You Should KnowSo – diamonds aren’t rare on Earth, and it may not be rare in space either. In 2004, astronomer Travis Metcalfe of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and colleagues discovered a diamond star that is 10 billion trillion trillion carats!

The cosmic diamond is a chunk of crystallised carbon, 4,000 km across, some 50 light-years from the Earth in the constellation Centaurus.

It’s the compressed heart of an old star that was once bright like our Sun but has since faded and shrunk.

Astronomers have decided to call the star “Lucy” after the Beatles song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

According to scientists, if you wait long enough, our own sun will eventually turn into one such large diamond star!

7. Famous Diamonds

bokassa 150x150 10 Facts About Diamond You Should KnowJust because they’re not rare, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t exceptional diamonds. There’s the 45-carat Hope Diamond (and its famous Curse), the mystical Koh-I-Noor Diamond, and the largest diamond ever found, the 546 carat Golden Jubilee.

Hnere’s a truly fascinating story about the Bokassa Diamond. In 1977, a crazy Central African dictator named Jean-Bédel Bokassa declared himself an emperor and asked Albert Jolis, the president of a diamond mining operation, for a diamond ring (he made sure Jolis knew that nothing smaller than a golf ball-sized rock would do!)

Jolis didn’t have the money to buy such a large stone but if he didn’t deliver one, his company would lose the mining concession in Central Africa. So he devised a clever ruse: Jolis found a large piece of black diamond bort (a poorly crystallized diamond usually fit only to be crushed into abrasive powder) that curiously resembled Africa in shape. He ordered the diamond polished and mounted on a large ring. A one-quarter carat white diamond was then set roughly where the country is located on the continent.

Jolis presented the “unique” diamond to Bokassa, and the clueless emperor loved it! He thought that the $500 ring was worth over $500,000! Just two years later, when Bokassa was overthrown in a coup, Jolis heard that he went into exile with his prize diamond ring, and noted wryly: “It’s a priceless diamond as long as he doesn’t try to sell it.” (Source)

8. The Most Brilliant Advertising Campaign of All Time: A Diamond Is Forever

The 1930s was a bad decade for the diamond industry: the price of diamond had declined worldwide. Europe was in the verge of another war and the idea of a diamond engagement ring didn’t take hold. Indeed, engagement rings were considered a luxury and when given, they rarely contained diamonds.

In 1938, De Beers engaged N.W. Ayer & Son, the first advertising agency in the United States, to change the image of diamonds in America. The ad agency suggested a clever ad campaign to link diamonds to romance in the public’s mind. To do this, they placed diamonds in the fingers of Hollywood stars and suggested stories to newspapers on how diamond rings symbolized romance. Even high school students were targeted:

N. W. Ayer outlined a subtle program that included arranging for lecturers to visit high schools across the country. “All of these lectures revolve around the diamond engagement ring, and are reaching thousands of girls in their assemblies, classes and informal meetings in our leading educational institutions,” the agency explained in a memorandum to De Beers.

The agency had organized, in 1946, a weekly service called “Hollywood Personalities,” which provided 125 leading newspapers with descriptions of the diamonds worn by movie stars. […] The idea was to create prestigious “role models” for the poorer middle-class wage-earners. The advertising agency explained, in its 1948 strategy paper, “We spread the word of diamonds worn by stars of screen and stage, by wives and daughters of political leaders, by any woman who can make the grocer’s wife and the mechanic’s sweetheart say ‘I wish I had what she has.'”

In 1948, an N.W. Ayer copywriter named Frances Gerety, had a flash of inspiration and came up with the slogan “A Diamond is Forever.” It’s a fitting slogan, because it reminds people that it is a memorial to love, and as such, must stay forever in the family, never to be sold (see below). Ironically, Gerety never married and died a spinster.

But equating diamonds with romance wasn’t enough. Toward the end of the 1950s, N.W. Ayer found that the Americans were ready for the next logical step, making a diamond ring a necessary element in betrothal:

“Since 1939 an entirely new generation of young people has grown to marriageable age,” it said. “To this new generation a diamond ring is considered a necessity to engagements by virtually everyone.” The message had been so successfully impressed on the minds of this generation that those who could not afford to buy a diamond at the time of their marriage would “defer the purchase” rather than forgo it.

Then the clever ad agency went one step further. N.W. Ayers noted that when women were involved in the selection of the engagement ring, they tended to pick cheaper rings. So De Beers encouraged the “surprise” engagement, with men picking the diamond on their own (with the clear message that the more expensive the stone, the better he’ll look in the eyes of a woman).

They even gave clueless men a guideline: American men should spend two months wages, whereas Japanese men should spend three. Why? Because they can:

But the guidelines differed by nation. A “two months’ salary” equivalent was touted in the United States, whereas men in Great Britain got off the hook with only one month. Japan’s expectation was set the highest, at three months. I asked a De Beers representative why the Japanese were told to spend so much compared to the Americans or the English.

“We were, quite frankly, trying to bid them up,” he answered. (

In 1939, when De Beers engaged N.W. Ayer to change the way the American public view diamonds, its annual sales of the gem was $23 million. By 1979, the ad agency had helped De Beers expand its sales to more than $2.1 billion

9. Diamonds are Actually Lousy Investments

De Beers is quite famous for never lowering the price of diamonds. During the Great Depression, the cartel drastically cut supplies and stockpiled diamonds to prop up their price. But do diamonds make good investments?

Unless you’re a certified diamond seller, the answer is no: you won’t be able to sell a diamond ring for more than what you pay for it. And the reason is simple: with diamonds, you buy at retail and sell at wholesale, if you can sell it at all.

In 1982, Edward Jay Epstein wrote an intriguing article for The Atlantic, titled “Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?” In it, he wrote about an experiment to determine a diamond’s value as an investment.

The [Money Which?] magazine conducted another experiment to determine the extent to which larger diamonds appreciate in value over a one-year period. In 1970, it bought a 1.42 carat diamond for £745. In 1971, the highest offer it received for the same gem was £568. Rather than sell it at such an enormous loss, Watts decided to extend the experiment until 1974, when he again made the round of the jewelers in Hatton Garden to have it appraised. During this tour of the diamond district, Watts found that the diamond had mysteriously shrunk in weight to 1.04 carats. One of the jewelers had apparently switched diamonds during the appraisal. In that same year, Watts, undaunted, bought another diamond, this one 1.4 carats, from a reputable London dealer. He paid £2,595. A week later, he decided to sell it. The maximum offer he received was £1,000.

Why is there no active after-market for diamonds? It is estimated that the public holds about 500 million carats of gem diamonds – if a significant portion of the public begins selling, then the price of diamond would plummet. To prevent this from happening, the diamond industry spent a huge sum in making diamonds “heirloom” properties to be passed down for generations, keeping the price of diamond artificially high (so people wouldn’t be tempted to unload them for fear of losing money) and discourage jewelers from buying diamonds from the public.

10. Artificial Diamonds

apollo cultured diamonds 150x150 10 Facts About Diamond You Should KnowThe idea of making artificial diamond isn’t new. H.G. Wells proposed exactly such a thing in his story “The Diamond Maker” in 1911. Since then, scientists have come up with ways to create synthetic diamonds and diamond simulants like cubic zirconia – but experts could always tell them apart. Until now.

In the past decade, scientists have perfected a technique called Chemical Vapor Deposition, where carbon gas cloud is passed over diamond seeds in a vacuum chamber heated to more than 1,800 degrees. In a matter of days, they are now able to “grow” diamonds that are virtually indistinguishable from natural ones, even to the experts:

Seeking an unbiased assessment of the quality of these laboratory diamonds, I asked Bryant Linares to let me borrow an Apollo stone. The next day, I place the .38 carat, princess-cut stone in front of Virgil Ghita in Ghita’s narrow jewelry store in downtown Boston. With a pair of tweezers, he brings the diamond up to his right eye and studies it with a jeweler’s loupe, slowly turning the gem in the mote-filled afternoon sun. “Nice stone, excellent color. I don’t see any imperfections,” he says. “Where did you get it?”

“It was grown in a lab about 20 miles from here,” I reply.

He lowers the loupe and looks at me for a moment. Then he studies the stone again, pursing his brow. He sighs. “There’s no way to tell that it’s lab-created.”

But if you think that the price of diamond will fall precipitously, think again. Companies that make cultured diamonds like Apollo and Gemesis aren’t stupid: they’re not going to kill the goose that laid the diamond egg by flooding the market with cheap stones.

End Note

Whether you love or hate them, diamonds are endlessly fascinating. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that we haven’t touched topics like blood diamonds, J. Walter Thompson’s brilliant campaign to insert diamond engagement rings into Japan’s wedding custom, and so on.

25 Amazing Pre-Prohibition Absinthe Posters

After having been banned for over a century in most countries, Absinthe is re-establishing itself as a (legal) cult favorite, and the drink of choice for people looking to become inebriated as quickly as possible. Suffice to say, many of the older absinthes producing companies are no longer in business. These nineteenth century absinthe brands, did however, leave a wealth of history in the form of their print advertisements. Below is a compilation of our favorite absinthe posters from the drinks’ heyday. Most of these come from French brands of the time, and it is interesting to note that many prove a foreshadowing of sexual innuendo-laden modern beer advertisements. Enjoy!

click on images to enlarge…

Absinth on Wikipedia:

Absinthe is historically described as a distilled, highly alcoholic (45%-74% ABV) beverage It is an anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, commonly referred to as “grande wormwood”. Absinthe traditionally has a natural green color but can also be colorless. It is commonly referred to in historical literature as “la fée verte” (the Green Fairy).

Although it is sometimes mistakenly called a liqueur, absinthe was not bottled with added sugar and is therefore classified as a spirit. Absinthe is unusual among spirits in that it is bottled at a very high proof but is normally diluted with water when drunk.

Absinthe originated in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. It achieved great popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers. Due in part to its association with bohemian culture, absinthe was opposed by social conservatives and prohibitionists. Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, and Aleister Crowley were all notorious ‘bad men’ of that day who were (or were thought to be) devotees of the Green Fairy.

Absinthe was portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug.The chemical thujone, present in small quantities, was singled out and blamed for its alleged harmful effects. By 1915, absinthe had been banned in the United States and in most European countries except the United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Denmark and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although absinthe was vilified, no evidence has shown it to be any more dangerous than ordinary spirit. Its psychoactive properties, apart from those of alcohol, had been much exaggerated

A revival of absinthe began in the 1990s, when countries in the European Union began to reauthorize its manufacture and sale. As of February 2008, nearly 200 brands of absinthe were being produced in a dozen countries, most notably in France, Switzerland, Spain, and the Czech Republic. Commercial distillation of absinthe in the United States resumed in 2007.

The 10 most dangerous animals in the world

Rhinos, hyenas, alligators – devastating human predators, right? Wrong! Though an attack by one of these beasts would surely mean bad news, they’re statistically least likely to kill a human. Check out the most deadly animals in the world, discover how they mete out their punishment and, most importantly, find out how to avoid them!

No 10: The bear

grizzly bear The 10 most dangerous animals in the world

Forget gentle Ben – when a bear rears on its hind legs you know you’re in trouble. Although bears have a fearsome reputation, you are statistically more likely to survive a bear attack than to perish, but that’s small consolation to those who are faced with a bristling bear. With five attacks in Canada in 2005 alone, it seems that they’re on the increase due to human destruction of, and encroachment on, bears’ natural habitat.

Responsible for: An estimated 5-10 fatalities a year.

Hangs out in: North America, Canada, North Pole, Russia and isolated pockets around the world.

Method of dispatch: There are many different sub-species of bear and not all of them are vicious. However, the polar, black and grizzly varieties are deadliest. Bears will trample, maul and generally savage their prey until they’re frightened off or finish the job; and will attack for a variety of reasons, hunger being one. You should always keep food well away from your camp.

Useful avoidance techniques: If you are faced with an angry bear (categorised by snorting, false bluffs, ground beating, etc), slowly back away from the bear, watching it all the while. DO NOT turn and run. If it continues to act aggressively, you should respond in kind by shouting and throwing sticks and stones while continuing to back away. If a bear is upon you, fight back as you will stand a better chance of survival than if you play dead.

No 9: The shark

killer shark The 10 most dangerous animals in the world

Sharks have a terrible reputation thanks to films such as Jaws and Deep Blue Sea, but it’s one not entirely without cause. It seems that although great whites are often blamed for unprovoked attacks on humans, it is more likely to be down to those snappy bull sharks, who are very aggressive. Out of 360 species, only four are known killers: tiger, great white, oceanic whitetip and bull sharks. However, as we’ve seen with bears, although there are a high number of shark attacks, actual fatalities are fairly low.

Responsible for: An estimated 100 fatalities a year.

Hangs out in: Florida, Australia, Hawaii and South Africa.

Method of dispatch: Sharks attack the only way they can – by lunging with fearsome teeth. Sharks can grip their prey easily in their powerful jaws and are capable of biting through almost anything.

Useful avoidance techniques: Don’t wear yellow or orange, as sharks have good eyesight and these colours in particular seem to irritate them. If you are cut, get out of the water as they will smell blood from miles away. Engage in your aquatic recreation in groups – sharks are more likely to attack solitary prey. If you are attacked, punch the shark on the nose and claw the eyes and gills as these are sensitive spots.

No 8: Jellyfish

killer jellyfish The 10 most dangerous animals in the world

The sting-masters of the sea, Jellyfish are usually passive drifters who use their tentacles to dredge up small prey. However, anyone who becomes entangled with a jellyfish will experience degrees of pain from a nasty nip to excruciating pain, depending on the species. The box jellyfish is one of the most venomous marine creatures in the world; a sting can kill a man within minutes and most fatalities occur following a brush with a toxic jelly like this.

Responsible for: An estimated 100 fatalities a year.

Hangs out in: Northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Method of dispatch: The jellyfish unwinds its coiled stinging tentacles, fires them at the victim and then pumps their venom to paralyse the unfortunate recipient, usually manifesting itself as cardiac arrest in humans.

Useful avoidance techniques: If swimming in an area where there are known jellyfish, wear a sting-suit. However, if you are stung, get out of the water pronto and apply vinegar to any stings remaining embedded in the flesh to remove the venom, then brush or lift off using a credit card, stick or similar.

No 7: The hippopotamus

killer hipo The 10 most dangerous animals in the world

At first glance, these wallowing river-horses appear to be bulky, lazy beasts and not the fearsome predators you would expect to have a habit of mauling humans. However, with gaping mouths that can open four feet wide and swinging sledgehammer heads, as well as the fact that they can outrun us on land, these highly aggressive animals have plenty of scope for destruction and are considered one of the most dangerous of African animals.

Responsible for: An estimated 100-150 fatalities a year.

Hangs out in: Lakes, rivers, wallows – in fact any water – in Africa.

Method of dispatch: Hippos will charge, trample and gore victims with alarming ferocity, often when they are blocked from deep water or someone is standing between the hippo and their calf. They have also been known to upturn boats and canoes without provocation and feast on the victim within, despite being herbivores.

Useful avoidance techniques: Surprising hippos is a big no-no. If canoeing in hippo waters, rap on the side of the boat with your paddle to warn any wallowing occupants that you are close by, therefore giving them a chance to move to deeper waters. If you surprise them on land where they feel most vulnerable, do not block their escape route to water.

No 6: The elephant

killer elephant The 10 most dangerous animals in the world

Despite their friendly and approachable image thanks to zoo feeding times, these herbivores kill an alarming amount of people every year. Elephants are unpredictable creatures, and have been known to kill zookeepers who have been with them for as long as 15 years. It is recorded that even the tamest of elephants can attack without warning, though it is thought that most elephants do not realise the harm they do with almost no effort.

Responsible for: An estimated 300-500 fatalities a year.

Hangs out in: Africa and India.

Method of dispatch: Considering their huge size – the average elephant weighs over 6 tons – they trample and gore using their fearsome tusks and are capable of causing untold amounts of devastation.

Useful avoidance techniques: General advice on avoiding an elephant attack seems to be: don’t startle the beast; he is more likely to charge if he feels intimidated. If the elephant seems intent on charging, make as much noise as you can and try to put it off – otherwise scale the nearest tree (large enough so that the elephant cannot knock it down, of course).

No 5: The crocodile

crocodile The 10 most dangerous animals in the world

Crocodiles are dreaded prehistoric creatures capable of wreaking a terrible punishment on puny human flesh. North American, Estuarine and Nile crocodiles are the most dangerous and probably kill more people yearly than figures show due to the isolated areas where attacks are likely to take place and distance from help. One meal will keep a crocodile sated for a good while, so they like to wait in the water for the perfect time to strike.

Responsible for: An estimated 600-800 fatalities a year.

Hangs out in: Africa and Australia.

Method of dispatch: With terrifying speed, crocodiles can launch themselves out of the water like a missile and latch hold of their prey. They then go into a death roll, spinning the victim around and around to disorientate, thereby lessening its chance of escape.

Useful avoidance techniques: Straight from the society of stating the obvious: do not swim in areas where there are crocodiles. It may be hot, and you may want a swim, but the croc will see you coming and the rest doesn’t bear thinking about. If you’re unfortunate enough to be grabbed, shout, scream, claw… and pray.

No 4: Big cats

tiger fight The 10 most dangerous animals in the world

These big cats certainly mean business. With destruction of their natural habitat and a decline in prey species, particularly concerning the tiger and North American mountain lion or cougar, attacks on humans are increasing. The African lion is the biggest and most feared of big cats, but holidaymakers on safari are 100 per cent safe viewing from a vehicle, unless they decide to take a closer look and step down. Mountain lions are found in many national parks and are responsible for six attacks a year in the US and Canada.

Responsible for: An estimated 800 fatalities a year.

Hangs out in: Africa, North America and India.

Method of dispatch: Tigers generally attack from the back and look to bite the jugular or break the neck. Mountain lions stalk their prey and often attack from a vantage point. Presumably they then set about mauling the victim in a manner identical to that we’ve all seen in countless nature programs.

Useful avoidance techniques: To avoid a heinous attack by a big cat, stare them in the eye and don’t look away. To make yourself appear larger by opening your coat; they are unlikely to attack a larger animal, particularly in the case of a mountain lion. DO NOT turn and run – you may as well flash a neon sign asking to be attacked. They can outrun you in any case. Shout, scream and throw stones. If one has you, punch its nose and eyes.

No 3: The scorpion

african schorpion The 10 most dangerous animals in the world

Highly deadly and twice as ugly, the scorpion is a nasty critter that is probably responsible for more deaths per year than recorded, due to the isolated places they hang out and probable lack of access to antivenin. However, out of an estimated 1,500 species of scorpion worldwide, only around 25 are regarded dangerous.

Responsible for: An estimated 800-2,000 fatalities a year.

Hangs out in: Worldwide; particularly Africa, the Americas and Central Asia.

Method of dispatch: Scorpions paralyse their prey by pumping deadly venom through the obvious curved stinger at the end of their tails. As with all venom, humans are particularly susceptible if they are allergic – though the African spitting scorpion, who scuttles around Africa, is the most venomous, as it is able to spray venom up to a metre. Yuk.

Useful avoidance techniques: Scorpions become active at night and lie low during the day, so be sure to shake out any bedding, clothing or anything close to the ground before use. Be vigilant at night and wear thick socks.

No 2: The venomous snake

cobra snake The 10 most dangerous animals in the world

Though there are more than 2,000 species of snake, 450 of which are venomous, only 250 are capable of killing a man. That’s little consolation to the thousands who meet a nasty death due to snake bites each year – it’s usually members of local populations who bear the brunt as they live and work where snakes inhabit and usually wear no protective gear.

Responsible for: An estimated 50-125,000 fatalities a year.

Hangs out in: Africa, Asia and North America.

Method of dispatch: Snakes are very fast and any part of the human body is a good place for a bite, seeing as the venom can flow into the bloodstream within minutes; although those near major veins and arteries will travel faster. Snakes use their venom to paralyse their prey. A fully grown king cobra can rear up so it looks a man in the eye; others can spit venom into the eye. Nasty.

Useful avoidance techniques: Unsurprisingly, most people come a cropper when they try to harass a snake or draw close to it. Snakes will usually only attack if they’re feeling threatened so the short answer is: stay away! Wear stout boots if hiking and check either side of paths. Don’t mess about looking under rocks or fallen vegetation as you’ll get more than you bargained for. If you come across a snake, back away very slowly, as it can strike to half its length and sudden movements are likely to alarm it.

No 1: The mosquito

mosquito killer The 10 most dangerous animals in the world

Yes, the humble mosquito. What we Brits regard as an annoying pest is actually the most dangerous creature on the planet, thanks to its ability to spread disease with alarming efficiency. Best known for spreading deadly malaria, mossies also spread elephantiasis, yellow fever, dengue fever and West Nile virus, which was recently introduced to the US and is now prevalent in all states.

Responsible for: An estimated 2-3 million fatalities a year.

Hangs out in: Worldwide; harmful in Africa, Asia and North America.

Method of dispatch: Using serrated mouth parts, female mosquitoes pierce the skin and inject saliva containing a thinning agent to liquidise the blood. Most people won’t know that they have been bitten until the immune system reacts, resulting in red, itchy bumps that continue to itch for days after the initial bite.

Useful avoidance techniques: Mosquito nets treated with DDT are the most effective way to keep them at bay, as well as combative sprays and treatments that can be applied directly to the skin. Wear light-coloured, long clothes in the evening. If travelling to malaria zones, ensure that you take your full course of tablets before, during and after your stay.

Top 5 Toughest Presidents

Being the leader of the free world is a tough job. You have to have a set of stones if you’re going to let the world know who’s boss. However, some Presidents are more physically imposing then others and would have no problem showing the opposition who’s boss. Here are the top five President’s that, if Politics were the UFC,would stomp Hugo Chavez’s ass.

Gerald Ford

gerald ford Top 5 Toughest Presidents
Despite being portrayed as a klutz by the media, Ford was linebacker and center for the University of Michigan giving the school two undefeated seasons and national titles in 1932 and 1933. He also took down Heisman Trophy winner Jay Berwanger.

Teddy Roosevelt

teddy roosevelt Top 5 Toughest Presidents

Forget that crippled guy, if ever there was a “man’s man” in the Oval Office, it’s Teddy Roosevelt. The original “Rough Rider”, Roosevelt enjoyed hunting, ranching, taking down outlaws, and boxing. Upon leaving the White House, Roosevelt enjoyed big game hunting and killed 512 big game animals like rhinos while on safari. Care to step into the ring Ahemadinjad?

Andrew Jackson

andrew jackson Top 5 Toughest Presidents
There’s a reason this guy is on the twenty. At age thirteen, Jackson joined the Revolutionary War effort as a courier and wound up being taken prisoner by the British. While incarcerated, Jackson not only almost starved to death but took slashes from a Red Coat for refusing to clean his captors boots. One would think Jackson would’ve started playing it safe after that incident, but he’d only just begun. Jackson had a unique way of settling disputes; with a duel. Jackson reportedly fought 13 duels one of which he won with a bullet lodged in his chest.

Abraham Lincoln

abraham lincoln Top 5 Toughest Presidents Don’t mess with this guy, when Lincoln lived in New Salem he challenged the leader of a local group of ruffians to a wrestling match. Lincoln grabbed the guy by the neck and shook him like he was child, riling up his gang. When a normal man would’ve retreated, Lincoln offered to take ‘em all on. Should’ve thought twice Confederacy.

Ulysses S. Grant

ulysses grant Top 5 Toughest Presidents
One of the most aggressive and successful generals of the Civil War, Grant was described by historians as a man who understood the importance of “the simple importance of inflicting greater losses on the enemy than he can sustain, day after day, until he breaks. Grant the boy never retraced his steps. Grant the man did not retreat—he advanced.” Bad ass.

The world’s priciest foods

Jamón ibérico de bellota, newly legal for import (at $180 per pound), barely cracks the top five on the pricey foods scale. We checked in with gourmet retailers for the rundown on the world’s most expensive culinary indulgences.

1.Edible gold leaf

1 edible gold leaf The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $15,000

Like calcium and iron, gold is a mineral that’s safe to eat, although it’s not an essential part of the human diet. It may be pricey by the pound, but a small shaker of 23K gold sprinkles (80 mg) costs only $30 at Fancy Flours in Bozeman, Mont. The store also carries flakes of gold leaf called “petals” – $45 for 150 milligrams – and packs of 25 small sheets of gold leaf for $75.

Store owner Nancy Quist says all three versions sell exceptionally well: Bakers and bartenders use the precious metal to make dazzling treats for holidays and other special occasions. An opera cake, for example, is a traditional layered sponge cake blanketed in chocolate ganache and adorned with crumbled pieces of gold. For elaborate parties, people add gold sprinkles to glasses of Champagne or signature martinis. One customer even used gold leaf to cover an entire Christmas turkey.

“Gold is a very over-the-top decoration,” Quist says. “It’s insanely popular around the Oscars – people use it for drinks and to make Oscar-shaped cookies.”

2.White truffles

2 white truffles The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $6,000 and up

Sensual and mysterious, truffles were thought to be an aphrodisiac by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Their high price is due to their unpredictable growth habits: No one has been able to domesticate them, relying instead on trained dogs and pigs to sniff them out. The mushrooms grow underground near the roots of oak trees. Truffle hunters, known as truffeculteurs, work alone; their proven locations are closely guarded secrets.

White winter truffles, also called Alba truffles after their region of origin, are the priciest, commanding $6,000 to $10,000 per pound (prices vary year-to-year based on availability and quality). Less expensive truffles include white summer truffles and black winter and summer truffles.

Marky’s, a gourmet market in Miami, sells fresh truffles in season; last winter between November and January, the store sold about a pound of white truffles per week.

Says purchasing coordinator Sarah Freedman-Izquierdo, “The people who buy truffles are people who know how to cook with them – people who know food well.” She advises showcasing fresh truffles in simple preparations: “Nothing too complicated, nothing that will mask their flavor.” Try them gently sautéed in oil or butter and served on bread, or eaten raw in a simple salad, she advises.

3. Caviar

3 caviar The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $1,550 and up

A favorite at New Year’s parties, weddings and other celebrations, caviar is synonymous with luxury. Caviar, or salted fish roe, comes primarily from sturgeon that live in the Caspian Sea; Russia, Kazakhstan, and Iran are all major exporters. Beluga caviar is thought to be the best, and at around $4,000 a pound, the most expensive. However, overfishing has led to the rapid depletion of the beluga sturgeon population. As a result, the U.S. has banned imports of beluga caviar. (Other countries do import beluga caviar, although production is limited by international quotas.)

Osetra caviar, consisting of small, yellow-brown eggs, is the next best option. At Marky’s in Miami, one ounce of golden osetra caviar costs $147. “The best caviar,” explains Mark Zaslavsky, co-owner of Marky’s, “has a very light, buttery taste, and is not too salty. It makes you long for more. And caviar on Russian blini, with a little Champagne – it takes you to heaven.”

Zaslavsky prides himself on selling “the best of everything” at his shop, which also carries high-end olive oils, cheese, escargot, caviar, and foie gras. To him, fine foods are a luxury along the lines of fur coats and diamonds. “Why do people buy expensive food? Why do they buy expensive cars, big houses, jewelry?” he asks. “Because we all want the best.”

Zaslavsky calls caviar “the taste of success” – an addictive pleasure that has seduced him and other devotees to cross legal and ethical bounds. Demand often exceeds supply for legally obtained caviar (roe harvested in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), and in 2005, Marky’s pled guilty and paid a $1 million fine for purchasing illegal caviar from smugglers. As part of the plea agreement, the company implemented a new system of verification to ensure that all of its caviar meets CITES standards.

4.Saffron

4 saffron The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $1,500 and up

Saffron, the most expensive spice, is usually sold by the gram – just a small cluster of slender red threads in a tiny glass bottle. At the Spice House in Chicago, owners Tom and Patty Erd sell a gram of superior grade saffron for $6.79, and an even finer version, known as coupé grade, for $8.29.

The threads are the stigmas of tiny crocuses, grown primarily in Spain, Iran, Greece and India. Since each flower only has three stigmas, many blossoms are needed to produce even a small amount of spice. It takes an acre of land and hundreds of thousands of flowers to produce one pound of saffron threads.

Saffron, which Patty Erd calls “a classic,” has been a key ingredient in cuisines since ancient times, and it is commonly used to make risotto, bouillabaisse and paella. Fortunately, a little saffron goes a long way and most recipes call for just a pinch.

“There are 200 to 300 threads per gram, and you only need a few threads at a time,” Erd says. “You use it so sparingly that in the long run it’s not much more expensive than any other spice.”

But be careful to invest in quality, advises Vanilla Saffron Imports president Juan San Mames. His San Francisco direct-import business currently offers saffron for $1,162.24 per pound, or $72.95 per ounce, and carefully vets its saffron for compliance with ISO standards. (Yes, the ISO has saffron specifications.) Cheap saffron producers often leave in the tasteless yellow stamens, adding weight and diluting the red stigmas that give the spice its famous taste.

5.Kobe beef

5kobe beef The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $150 and up

Kobe beef is renowned among carnivores for its rich flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture. You’ll find it at pricey steakhouses and sushi restaurants, and also at some butchers and online retailers, where a four-ounce filet mignon might set you back $50. Kobe beef, also known as “Wagyu,” comes from Wagyu cattle raised in the Hyogo region of Japan. Increasingly, you’ll also find “American Kobe,” a more affordable alternative that is produced by American ranchers raising Wagyu cattle domestically.

Morgan Ranch, in Burwell, Neb., started raising Wagyu in 1992. Co-owner Dan Morgan explains: “Wagyu are genetically selected for eating quality – marbleizing, tenderness, juiciness, and flavor”- as opposed to other characteristics such as hardiness, fast growth, or milk production. He compares Wagyu meat to fine wine: it’s a specialty item for discriminating palates.

Joe Lazzara, owner of Joe’s Butcher Shop in Carmel, Ind., carries both the Japanese and American varities, and a Kobe steak costs about $110 per pound, while a similar cut of American Kobe goes for about half that.

For Lazzara, selling Kobe beef is a mark of prestige. “Carrying Kobe says we’re the kind of purveyor who knows about meat; it gives us credibility. If we’re knowledgeable about Kobe beef, just imagine everything else we must know.”

And once a customer’s purchased a prime cut, how should he cook it? “Carefully,” Lazzara advises. “Sear it at a high temperature, then finish it on low heat. The fat melts and coats the meat with flavor as you cook it.”

6.Civet coffee, aka kopi luwak

6civet coffee The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $110 and up

This rare coffee has the dubious distinction of being consumed before the customer has even taken a sip. The palm civet, a cat-like animal also called a luwak, ingests fresh coffee cherries but doesn’t digest the beans inside. After the beans pass through the civet’s digestive system, workers collect them and wash them in spring water. Supposedly, the civet’s digestive enzymes make the beans less acidic, improving the coffee’s flavor.

Peter Longo, owner of New York City’s Porto Rico Importing Co., is drawn to all things exotic and novel, so when he first heard about civet coffee, he knew it would be perfect for his store: “It was right up my alley – such an odd and unique thing.” Over the past six months, he’s sold about 12 pounds of civet coffee, mostly in small quantities. He charges $50 for one-eighth of a pound, $90 for a quarter-pound, and $175 for a half-pound; each order is custom-roasted.

Civet coffee may sound bizarre, but it’s not just for the adventurous. “It’s actually mild and smooth, with a piquant aftertaste,” Longo says. “It’s very good, as long as you don’t let your imagination get the better of you.”

7.Vanilla

7vanilla The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound of beans: $50 and up
Estimated price per gallon of extract: $260 and up

Because of its ubiquity, it’s easy to take vanilla for granted, but plain ol’ vanilla is second only to saffron when it comes to the priciest spices.

Vanilla beans come from a tropical orchid native to Mexico; today, Madagascar and Indonesia are the largest producers. Vanilla is expensive because growing and harvesting it is so labor-intensive, explains Patricia Rain, author of Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flower and owner of The Vanilla.Company, a wholesale vendor. “Each flower is hand-pollinated, and each bean handpicked,” she says. Then, the beans are dried and cured for several months to intensify the flavor. Six of Rain’s vanilla beans cost $14.95; a 4-ounce bottle of extract sells for $8.25.

Artificial vanilla – a synthetic compound derived from coal tar – is significantly cheaper than real vanilla, but it doesn’t have the same robust, nuanced flavor. Rain worries that if consumers become overexposed to the taste of fake vanilla, which is prevelent in processed sweets, they’ll lose sight of how good the real thing is.

“Just like coffee, or chocolate, it’s worth it to get the best,” she says. “If you love the taste of a product, you need to support it; you need to buy the real thing.”

8.Foie gras

8foie grascr The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $50

Foie gras – duck or goose liver fattened by force-feeding – has been a delicacy since Roman times, when geese livers, fattened on figs, were doused in milk and honey. Today, geese and ducks are force-fed corn through feeding tubes, a practice that animal-rights activists decry for its cruelty. Ethical concerns haven’t deterred too many foie gras fans, though: In May 2008 the city of Chicago repealed its foie gras ban after only two years.

Guillermo and Junny Gonzalez, originally from El Salvador, apprenticed with French foie gras producers before moving to California in 1985 and establishing Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras. There, they raise ducks for foie gras and other meat (humanely, according to Guillermo Gonzalez) and sell their products wholesale and retail (their retail price for fresh foie gras is $50 a pound).

“There’s nothing else like foie gras,” Guillermo Gonzalez says. “I can’t find words to describe it. It has a unique flavor and silky texture that can’t be replicated.”

The French are the biggest foie gras devotees, but chefs at Asian, American and a variety of “fusion” restaurants have embraced foie gras as a way to make any entrée more indulgent. You’ll find it on top of burgers and steaks, stuffed inside game hens and even made into hot dogs. Traditionally, though, it’s served as an appetizer, with toast and sometimes a little fresh fruit or compote. Serve it with chilled Sauterne.

9.Rare golden tigerfish

9golden tiger fishla The world’s priciest foods

Price per pound: $714

In 2007, a restaurant in China bought a rare giant golden tigerfish for $75,000, believing the fish to be an omen of good luck, according to Reuters. The fish, caught off the southern coast of China, was almost six feet long and weighed 105 pounds. The original asking price for the fish was $103,500, but the restaurant was able to strike a bargain – at a price that makes even toro seem cheap.

Top 10 Inventions of the Middle Ages

The middle ages (5th – 15th Centuries AD), often termed The Dark Ages, were actually a time of great discovery and invention. The Middle ages also saw major advances in technologies that already existed, and the adoption of many Eastern technologies in the West. This is a list of the ten greatest inventions of the Middle Ages (excluding military inventions).

1. The Heavy Plough 5th Century AD

2. Tidal Mills 7th Century AD

3. The Hourglass 9th Century AD

4. Blast Furnace 12th Century AD

5. Liquor 12th Century AD

6. Eyeglasses 13th Century

7. The Mechanical Clock 13th Century AD

8. Spinning Wheel 13th Century AD

9. Quarantine 14th Century AD

10. The Printing Press of Gutenberg 15th Century AD

Sources: Wikipedia, Britannica

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Top 10 Bizarre Phobias

coulrophobia 9 Top 10 Bizarre Phobias

From Wikipedia: “A phobia is an irrational, persistent fear of certain situations, objects, activities, or persons. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject. When the fear is beyond one’s control, or if the fear is interfering with daily life, then a diagnosis under one of the anxiety disorders can be made.” Here are the top 10 Bizarre phobias!

1. Ithyphallophobia – Fear of Erections

2. Ephebophobia – Fear of Youths

3. Coulrophobia – Fear of Clowns

4. Ergasiophobia – Fear of Work

5. Gymnophobia – Fear of Nudity

6. Neophobia – Fear of Newness

7. Paraskavedekatriaphobia – Fear of Friday the 13th

8. Panphobia – Fear of Everything

9. Taphophobia – Fear of being Buried Alive

10. Pteronophobia – Fear of being Tickled by Feathers

Bonus: Luposlipaphobia

Source

4 Huge Explosions Nobody Could Explain

Tunguska – Thousands of square kilometres of trees were burned


In the early morning of 30 June, 1908, witnesses told of a gigantic explosion and blinding flash. Thousands of square kilometres of trees were burned and flattened.
Scientists have always suspected that an incoming comet or asteroid lay behind the event – but no impact crater was ever discovered and no expedition to the area has ever found any large fragments of an extraterrestrial object.

The explosion, equivalent to 10-15 million tonnes of TNT, occurred over the Siberian forest, near a place known as Tunguska.

A flash fire burned thousands of trees near the impact site. An atmospheric shock wave circled the Earth twice. And, for two days afterwards, there was so much fine dust in the atmosphere that newspapers could be read at night by scattered light in the streets of London, 10,000 km (6,213 miles) away.

Nearly a century later, scientists are still debating what happened at that remote spot. Was it a comet or an asteroid? Some have even speculated that it was a mini-black hole, though there is no evidence of it emerging from the other side of the Earth, as it would have done.

Rad full story at Uphaa

5 Things You Didn’t Know about AK-47

ak 47 5 Things You Didnt Know about AK 47Guns have always been a fascinating topic in America. From who’s using them to what model, make and brand they are, guns have become a staple in our modern society. Now, whether that’s a sad or thrilling fact, we’ve decided to let our readers in on some interesting facts about one of America’s most loved (and hated) assault rifles: the AK-47.

With a new book on the market entitled AK-47: The Story of the People’s Gun, Michael Hodges is an expert on this particular weapon, and we got Hodges to let us in on a few little-known facts about the AK-47 while researching his work.

1- The inventor of the AK-47 did not profit from the gun

Although by some estimates there are 100 million AK-47-style assault rifles in circulation around the world, the gun’s inventor, Mikhail Kalashnikov, did not become rich (unlike Eugene Stoner, the inventor of the American M16 assault rifle, who died a wealthy man). Communist states had no patents, and until its collapse in 1991, Kalashnikov was simply an employee of the Soviet Union. “I invented a weapon to save the motherland, to save the state from fascism,” he said. “My career has been dedicated to my country.”

Despite that country awarding him the Hero of Socialist Labor medal and many other accolades, this particular Socialist hero, who just happened to change the world, started life as an enemy of the Soviet Union. Kalashnikov narrowly escaped being shot by Stalin’s special police after his family was denounced as Kulaks in 1932, and exiled to Siberia. Kalashnikov escaped again when a Panzer shell blew him from his tank in 1941, as the Soviets fought desperately to halt the Nazi advance on Moscow.

2- The AK-47 is the perfect weapon for children

The AK-47 can be stripped in under a minute and cleaned quickly in almost any climatic condition. Even if it isn’t cleaned, an AK-47 is still more likely to fire than any of its rivals given similar treatment on the battlefield. With only eight moving parts the AK-47 is cheap to manufacture and easy to use — so easy in fact that children can be taught how to properly handle this weapon in a single hour. Sudanese child soldier Emmanuel Jal picked up his first AK-47 when he was 9 years old. A fully loaded AK-47 weighs four kilograms: “I don’t know how I lifted the AK when I was tired. It was so heavy,” he remembers. “We only had a few AKs but we weren’t scared, it was like a game with toy guns. When the fighting starts you can put the gun down and run away, or pull the trigger. Once you’ve done that you are hooked; it makes you think that no one can touch you. Once you’ve fired an AK-47 you become brave.”

3- America may have given bin Laden his first AK-47

Since 1998, Osama bin Laden has regularly included an AK-47 in the propaganda videos he releases after terrorist outrages. Consequently, the gun has come to represent the global jihad, and AK-47 is an integral part of the regime at fundamentalist camps, as far apart as the English home counties and the jungles of the Philippines.

These groups and their adherents are dedicated to the destruction of Israel and America — yet it is highly likely that it was Israel and America that inadvertently put an AK-47 into bin Laden’s hands. When the Israel Defense Forces invaded Lebanon in 1982 to “crush” the Palestinian Liberation Organization they captured thousands of AK-47s.These guns found their way, via the CIA and the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Agency, to the Mujahadeen resisting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. It is probable that amongst them would have been the AK-47 that equips bin Laden.

4- The AK-47 is the U.S. army’s most resilient enemy

U.S. forces first came into large-scale contact with the AK-47 during the Vietnam War. Their own M16s malfunctioned in the heat and damp of the jungle, but the Chinese-supplied AK-47s used by the communists continued to fire. Consequently, thousands of GIs picked up AK-47s from fallen Viet Cong guerrillas. This led Americans to open fire on their own side because they presumed the distinctive pop-pop-pop sound of an AK-47 revealed an enemy position. So many GIs threw away their guns in favor of AK-47s that a House of Representatives hearing in 1971 discovered that the U.S. Army attempted to stop the media reporting the phenomenon. Today, nearly 40 years later, in the sand and heat of Iraq, American soldiers are once again giving up their own U.S.-manufactured weapons in favor of the AK-47.

5- The AK-47 is the weapon of choice for U.S. mass murderers

On January 17, 1989, Patrick Purdey walked into the Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, armed with a Chinese-manufactured AK-47. It was fitted with a barrel magazine holding 75 rounds — both of which he bought legally over a gun-shop counter. When he walked out again five children were dead and 29 were injured. In December 1997, Arturo Reyes Torres entered his former place of work, the Caltrans Maintenance Yard, with an AK-47, killed four and wounded two. There are many more examples of AK-47 murders in the U.S. The online Urban Dictionary defines “Columbine” like so: “The constant bullying of the preppies and jocks has caused him to pick up his AK-47 and go Columbine on everyone.”

Ironically, the Columbine killers did not use AK-47s, but it doesn’t matter; in America gun crime is now perceived as AK crime.

rifle-ing through history

From the killing grounds of Sadr City to the murderous barrios of Bogotá, from the battlefields of Somalia to the ghettos of the United States, the AK-47 dominates the world. Invented by a Russian tank commander at the end of World War II, by rights it should be in the dustbin of history. However, such was the genius of his design that 60 years later — for millions of unfortunate people around the world, and scores of countries wracked by conflict — Mikhail Kalashnikov’s iconic assault rifle is both the present and, tragically, the future.

To learn even more about the AK-47, check out Michael Hodges’ book, AK-47: The Story of the People’s Gun.

SOURCE

Most Bizarre Experiments Of All Time

20]  Heartbeat At Death

heartatdeath Most Bizarre Experiments Of All TimeOn October 31, 1938, John Deering took a last drag on his cigarette, sat down in a chair, and allowed a prison guard to place a black hood over his head and pin a target to his chest. Next the guard attached electronic sensors to Deering’s wrists.

Deering had volunteered to participate in an experiment, the first of its kind, to have his heartbeat recorded as he was shot through the chest by a firing squad. The prison physician, Dr. Stephen Besley, figured that since Deering was being executed anyway, science might as well benefit from the event. Perhaps some valuable information about the effect of fear on the heart could be learned.

The electrocardiogram immediately disclosed that, despite Deering’s calm exterior, his heart was beating like a jackhammer at 120 beats per minute. The sheriff gave the order to fire, and Deering’s heartbeat raced up to 180 beats per minute. Then four bullets ripped into his chest, knocking him back in his chair. One bullet bore directly into the right side of his heart. For four seconds his heart spasmed. A moment later it spasmed again. Then the rhythm gradually declined until, 15.4 seconds after the first shot, Deering’s heart stopped.

The next day Dr. Besley offered the press a eulogy of sorts for Deering: “He put on a good front. The electrocardiograph film shows his bold demeanor hid the actual emotions pounding within him. He was scared to death.” [Read more…]

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