Saturday, June 16, 2007

Medieval monk's bones 'reburied'

Medieval monk's bones 'reburied'

Calke Abbey

Calke Abbey was donated to the National Trust
The remains of a medieval monk discovered at a South Derbyshire stately home have been returned to their resting place.

A builder discovered the skeleton - nick-named Noel - in December at the National Trust property Calke Abbey.

The remains have been returned to the courtyard where they were found, following tests by an archaeologist.

Builder Mark Webster, who discovered the bones, said finding the skeleton was "quite fascinating".

Drainage work

The stately home was built by the Harpe-Crewe family in 1704 but was the site of an earlier priory.

It was donated to the National Trust 1986.

Builder Mark Webster, who working on the site drainage at the time of the discovery, said: "Once we started to uncover it and realised it was a complete skeleton a few hundred years old it was fascinating.

"He had a complete set of teeth - better than mine - and obviously had a peaceful burial as he was buried with folded arms.

"It was a fascinating couple of days with the archaeologist uncovering it."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Museum of oddities heads to India

Museum of oddities heads to India

By Soutik Biswas
BBC News, Delhi

A Jivaro Indian shrunken head, 1920, from Ripley's collection
The Indian museum will feature shrunken head
The world's biggest freak show is about to hit India.

Shrunken human heads from South Africa. A freak animal with six legs and two heads. A skeleton of a mastodon, a prehistoric elephant-like animal. A rock from Mars, which was dislodged when a meteorite hit the planet.

All this and more quirky and bizarre items will be on display at the Ripley's Believe It Or Not! museum due to open by the end of this year in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.

The Canada-based Ripley's Entertainment Company runs some 64 attractions in 11 countries and has been in the business for 85 years.

India will be the 12th country to have Ripley's Believe it or Not! attractions.

They will be spread across three museums on a 50-acre entertainment and residential complex being set up by Bangalore-based Innovative Studios.

"The country was a natural market to come to one day," Ripley's president Robert Masterson told the BBC.

"India has been one of our strongest markets since the 1930s when the newspapers here began carrying our cartoon strip. We have a lot of fans here, and we get a lot of inquires from India."

The immensely popular Ripley's cartoon strip appears in 300 newspapers in 60 countries in 17 languages.


Mr Masterson says the Indian museum will have a "collection of genuine and original items from our collection from all over the world".

They include shrunken human heads collected from the jungles of South Africa ("they sell for anything between $50,000 to 60,000", says Mr Masterson), miniature carvings by Russian artists, freak animals who died natural deaths and unusual "crafts items" from all over the world.

Ripley Museum
Ripley's currently operates in 11 countries

Such "craft items" displayed at Ripley's also have an equally freakish history - one attraction, for example, is a board with 5,600 coats of paint which a man painted and erased every single day of his life.

The mastodon skeleton with a 18ft tusk will be a highlight of the museum at Bangalore.

Also on show will be one of the seven pieces of Mars rock which Ripley's has in its collection - the rocks, according to Mr Masterson, were dislodged from the planet when an asteroid hit it years ago.

The other two museums will be a collection of wax models and world records.

Given the craze among many Indians for setting bizarre records - like growing the largest moustache and pulling vehicles using one's teeth - it is not surprising that Ripley's is setting up their records museum in India.

"It will heavily feature records held by people living in India. The records will be told through stories, pictures, videos and original items," Mr Masterson said.

The Ripley's Believe It or Not! museums are the legacy of cartoonist Robert L Ripley.

Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong are among the Asian countries which already have Ripley museums. Two museums will be opening in mainland China soon.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Whoops! Truck Spills Paint For Miles Along I-70/I-55

And you thought that you knew all of the color of road stripes and what they mean, well here is a new one prison- issued jumper suit color ( does this mean you will be arrested on crossing the line :) or is this the new National security code for motorists that don't have their radios on.?
Peace and have a stress free day

Whoops! Truck Spills Paint For Miles Along I-70/I-55

Click here to see video (click on - "Whoops! Truck Spills Paint For Miles Along I-70/I-55" video in list of videos) of the orange stripe on the highway from Chopper 5.

KSDK - You know what yellow lines mean on the roads, and you know what white lines mean. But what about a giant orange line?

Drivers Thursday morning were greeted with a wide orange stripe of paint where Interstates 70 & 55 run together in the metro east.

Apparently, a truck carrying orange paint sprung a leak, and just kept going. The orange stripe starts around Highway 203 (near Gateway International Raceway) and goes to about 4th Street in East St. Louis, a distance of more than 3 miles.

It wasn't immediately clear if the driver of the truck ever realized he was spreading orange paint along the highway.

IDOT officials say it appears to be high visibility orange marking paint. IDOT is trying to figure out what to do about the paint, and officials are considering re-striping the road markings for safety. Officials say they're worried that the paint may be reflective, and could cause problems at night.

Illinois State Police are investigating, and IDOT says that the driver, if found, could be held responsible for the cost of the damage.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Would you drink Cucumber Soda?

Would you drink Cucumber Soda?
Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

“Pepsi Ice Cucumber(tm) is a cola of fresh taste balanced with an exquisite stimulus of the carbonic acid with a cucumber flavor… a cola which is dimly fragrant, emerald green with a rush of coolness.”

Pepsi Ice Cucumber officially went on sale today, and you should be able to find it in most supermarkets and convenience stores around Japan. While the bottle clearly describes it as “combination” of cucumber and cola, there just isn’t much cola flavor to it.

The weird thing is when I looked at the ingredients it basically said 0% Juice/Natural Flavor, so apparently there isn’t even really cucumber in it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Slaves to the goddess of fertility

Slaves to the goddess of fertility
By Damian Grammaticas
BBC News, Bagalkot, southern India

Slaves to the goddess of fertility
By Damian Grammaticas
BBC News, Bagalkot, southern India


Devadasis are 'sanctified prostitutes'

In a village in southern India a child has just been born. A group of women gather round the cradle, wishing the baby a life full of riches, rubies and pearls.

"You're lucky the child is a boy," the women tell the mother. In this society girls are valued far less.

The women are all devadasis, literally slaves of the goddess.

As children their parents gave them to serve Yellama - the goddess of fertility. Her cult is thousands of years old, her followers spread across southern India.

At the temple to Yellama in Saundatti women dance and praise the goddess.

The practice of dedicating young girls as devadasis has been outlawed for over 50 years, but still it happens.

Anti-slavery campaigners estimate that there are at least 25,000 devadasis in the state of Karnataka alone.

Sexual slavery

"Being devadasis means we are slaves of the goddess. We have to visit this temple. We wear necklaces of pearls to show we are bound to Yellama. We give blessings and perform her rituals," says Imla, a devadasi in her 40s who is swathed in a pink and yellow sari.

When girls dedicated to Yellama reach puberty they are forced to sacrifice their virginity to an older man. What follows is a life of sexual slavery, they become sanctified prostitutes.

The money devadasis earn goes straight to their parents who often act as pimps for their daughters.

Goddess Yellama's cult is thousands of years old

"My parents didn't have any sons, so there was nobody to earn the family a living," says Imla.

"Instead they turned me into a whore. I don't even remember when I started because I was so young. My parents thought at least they'd get some money from me."

Once girls are dedicated the course of their lives is decided. They can never marry, never have a family life.

In a town nearby we found Shoba who is just 20 and has been a devadasi prostitute for seven years.

Shoba showed me her brothel, a single room she shares with her parents.

She comes from a long line of devadasis. Her grandmother was one, her sister is too.

Shoba remembers how, when she was 13 her parents dressed her as if for marriage. They auctioned her virginity to the highest bidder.

Tough life

"When the first man arrived I thought he was going to marry me," Shoba recalls, "but he slept with me and then never came back. I realised this was now my trade. Every night I was sold to whoever paid the most."

Life here on the dry, harsh Deccan plateau has always been tough, especially for girls, who are often seen as a burden for poor families, expensive to marry off.

Recent years have been marked by droughts and crop failures.

Campaigners say there are 25,000 devadasis in Karnataka state alone

The goddess of fertility is seen as a powerful force. Many believe that giving girls to Yellama will bring good fortune on a family.

It also means they don't have to save for a dowry, and the daughter becomes a bread-winner.

We found Shoba's mother Satyavati tending to her field of sunflowers. Sacrificing their daughter's life has enriched Shoba's parents.

"Someone had to continue the tradition. It had to be my daughters," she shrugs.

"Because Shoba earns so much money she has been able to build us a house, and she bought these fields. So what's the big deal?"

Secret ceremonies

Despite campaigns by India's national and state governments, the system of devadasis endures.

The number of young girls being dedicated is declining. But now the ceremonies happen in secret, so it is impossible to know exact numbers.

I asked Shoba why she doesn't just give up being a devadasi, and leave it behind?

"I can't get out of the system, even if I say I'm not a devadasi any more nobody will come forward to marry me," she says.

"I keep telling other people not to make their daughters devadasis, you are abused, it's a horrible life."

So it's a life that Shoba will never escape from. Women already dedicated cannot be freed.

The power of belief is still so strong here that she will always be a devadasi, enslaved.

Picture of the Day

People jump in a canal in

Owner's appeal over cat's 26 toes

And you think that Cat's only have nine lives....

Owner's appeal over cat's 26 toes

Des the cat
Des the cat can be temperamental according to his owner
They say cats have nine lives - so meet Des, who has 26 toes.

While most pet cats have 18 - five on their front paws and four on their rear - the 10-year-old boasts seven on his front and six on his back paws.

The extra digits have left owner Alison Thomas, of Felindre, near Swansea, pondering whether it is a UK record.

There are unconfirmed reports in north America of cats with up to 28 toes - but Mrs Thomas cannot find records closer to home.

A cat with too many toes is called a Polydactyl.

Mother-of-three Mrs Thomas said: "He came to us when he was about six months old - he just turned up on the doorstep and it was even more noticeable then because his paws were so big.

"The first thing people say when they see him even now is 'look at his paws'.

"He is a bit temperamental - if you know him you are okay but Des can be quite quick with his paws and leave a nasty scratch because he has so many claws.

The cat's rear paw has six toes
His rear paws have six toes -his front paws have seven.

"He did have a problem with his paws a while back - nothing to do with the number of the toes - and the vet said he could amputate the extra ones.

"But they don't cause him any problems - he does not scratch the furniture - the children know and they say 'don't go near Des's claws'."

She said she had read it was common for a Polydactyl to have 24 toes - but she said 26 was 'very rare'.

The world record might belong to a cat called Mickey Mouse who was owned by Renee Delgade of Westlake Village, California, in 1974.

It had 32 toes, but there are doubts about the record as Mickey may have had "double paw" condition and may not have been a pure Polydactyl.

There is speculation the real record holder for a Polydactyl is Bobbi, owned by Kathy Williams of Stone Creek in British Columbia. The Canadian press reported in 2002 it had 28 toes.

"We would be interested to find out what the record is the UK," added Mrs Thomas.