BS or Truth IV – WIF Confidential

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Sounds Like BS

But Oh No No

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Here are 10 more facts that sound totally made up, but are actually true. We highly encourage you to take these tidbits to your friends and family, just to get a “WTF” reaction. They’ll probably go to Google to confirm it later, only to realize that you were actually right. We promise you that these are completely true facts, even if it sounds stranger than fiction. Seriously… you can’t make this stuff up.

10. In the 1700s, Rich People Let Hermits Live In Their Backyards For Their Own Amusement

During the 18th Century, wealthy people in England, Scotland, and Ireland had so few real problems to deal with that it became fashionable to indulge in melancholy. Small houses on these large properties called “hermitages” came into style. Originally, hermitages were a place where someone could be alone and read a book full of tragedy. But eventually, it evolved into keeping a “Token Hermit” in the garden, because it was guaranteed to bum everyone out.

They found a poor man on the street, or one of their existing garden employees, and offered to give him a job and a free place to live at the hermitage. The token hermit was forced to dress up in a druid costume and refrain from cutting his hair or bathing himself for several years at a time. These old men would eventually grow long, white beards. As a “hermit,” the whole point was to be left alone without any social interaction. But whenever the wealthy estate owners felt like visiting, they had to accept them into the tiny house to entertain guests.

This became incredibly popular. People were desperate to keep up with the Joneses, so they did the 18th Century equivalent of buying a fake designer handbag. If someone was not rich enough to actually pay a hermit to live out the rest of their life in the hermitage, they would often stick a mannequin of a druid in the window to trick their neighbors. Other times, they would arrange the kitchen table and furniture to look as though someone was actually living there. So if guests came over to visit the tiny house, they would assume the hermit had wandered off somewhere. Believe it or not, the tradition of having a token hermit in your garden has actually stuck around… Only now, they’re called lawn gnomes.

9. There is a Japanese Town Where the Majority of the Population are Dolls

In the 1960s, the remote village of Nagoro, Japan had hundreds of people living there. They were all employees of a company that was constructing the Nagoro Dam, which is used for hydropower generation. But when the dam was complete, there were no longer any employment opportunities, so the younger generation moved away. The only people still living there were the elderly.

A woman named Tsukimi Ayano grew up in Nagoro, and she moved to Osaka to find work. When her parents were sick and dying, Ayano returned to Nagoro to find that the population had dwindled down to just 40 people, and the school was shut down, because there were no children living there. It was such a small and tight-knit community that Ayano knew everyone who had died. So, she began making dolls to memorialize them. She placed the dolls as life-sized scarecrows in the spots that best represented these people while they were alive — whether it was whispering secrets on their front porch, or planting flowers in their garden. Then, she began making dolls of children to sit in the classrooms of the school. She has created a total of over 400 life-sized dolls. Ayano said, “The time will come when I have outlived all of the people in this village.”

8. Snakes Can Still Bite You When They’re Dead, Even If Their Head is Chopped Off

In 2018, a Texas man found a poisonous western diamondback rattlesnake in his backyard. He quickly grabbed a nearby shovel, and chopped the snake’s head off. Confident that it was dead, he went to pick up the remains of the reptile. However, the snake’s head was still very much alive, and it bit his hand, unloading all of its venom at once. Normally, when someone is bit by a rattlesnake, it is equivalent to 2-4 doses of venom. In this case, it was more like 26 doses. The man fell to the ground and began to bleed and convulse violently. Luckily, his wife was nearby, and she called 911. He had to be airlifted to the hospital, and it took a week of treatment before he was in stable condition.

After this incident, plenty of people were wondering how it’s possible for a decapitated snake to still attack. National Geographic explained that a snake’s bite reflex remains active for several hours after its death. Its brain is essentially pre-programmed to bite whenever something goes near it.

7. Scientists Have Experimented With Interspecies Surrogacy

While it sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, scientists have experimenting with transferring the embryos of an animal into the surrogate mother of a completely different species. This is called “interspecific pregnancy,” and it’s also referred to as “inter-species cloning.” The main motivation is to see if the embryos of endangered species could be carried by surrogate mothers to increase the populations. Cats and rabbits have carried cloned embryos of a panda, but the babies did not survive, because the cat and rabbit bodies rejected them.

A few of the experiments actually did work, though. But as you might imagine, it was between two species that were closely linked. For example, it has been successful with rats and mice, gaurs and cows, as well as two different species of camels. And… yes, there have been talks of experimenting with half-human chimeras, but this has plenty of obvious ethical issues.

6. Two Men Lost Their Arms During Tug-Of-War

While this sounds like a scene out of a Monty Python movie, it was an all-to-real nightmare scenario. In 1997, a group of adult men were playing a game of tug-of-war in Taiwan. There was a huge celebration for a holiday called Retrocession Day in a park along the Keelung River in the city of Taipei.

The media was gathered to capture footage of a massive game of tug of war. There were over 1,600 people pulling on the rope, when it snapped. This amount of force was enough to rip out the arms of two men who were standing at the front of each team. Their arms came straight out of their sockets, and it was all captured on video. They were rushed to the Mackay Memorial Hospital, and it  took over 7 hours of intensive surgery to reattach their arms. These men were actually some of the lucky ones. Tug-of-war has been played since ancient times, and it is responsible for several deaths, injuries, and loss of limbs all over the world.

5. In the Victorian Era, People Collected Serial Killer Figurines

Image result for Serial Killer Figurines vintage

Maybe your grandmother enjoys collecting ceramic figurines, but it is something that has lost a lot of its popularity despite having been a tradition for hundreds of years. In Victorian England, people were obsessed with death. So, it only makes sense that instead of collecting figures of dancers or blushing brides, they wanted to commemorate stories of famous serial killers instead. Just a few examples were the Red Barn Murder, the Murders at Stanfield Hall, the Bermondsey Horror, and William Palmer, who was nicknamed “The Prince of Poisoners.”

If you’re wondering who on earth had the money or motivation to buy these things, look no further than author Charles Dickens. He was inspired by William Palmer and the Bermondsey Horror when he wrote his novel Bleak House, so it would only make sense that he would want to keep around a little memento of the people who helped him write another bestseller.

4. One Cloud Weighs As Much As 100 Elephants

When you look up at the clouds, they look like they must be lighter than air, or at least have a similar consistency to cotton candy. Most people assume that they are weightless, since they are floating. You have probably also experienced going through a cloud when you’re flying in an airplane. However, a cloud is much heavier than you would ever imagine. It actually weighs an average of 1.1 million pounds or 498,952 kilograms.

So how on Earth does something so heavy float? The water droplets crystallize, and this water spreads out, so the weight is evenly distributed. One cloud usually spreads across more than a mile, and they are a quarter of a mile thick. It takes over a million of these small water droplets floating in the cloud to form into just one raindrop. Lucky for us, when clouds have too much moisture it just rains, instead of crashing down on our heads.

3. A Boy Scout Built a Nuclear Reactor in His Parents’ Backyard

In the 1990s, a kid named David Hahn was a boy scout in Clinton Township, Michigan. When he was 14-years-old, he took it upon himself to earn the Atomic Energy merit badge. He continued to remain interested in chemistry, and he caused several explosions on camping trips and in his parents’ basement. His mother forced him to start doing his experiments in the garden shed. By the time he turned 17, he wanted to build a nuclear reactor as his Eagle Scout project.

He started collecting small bits of radioactive material from smoke detectors. He bought thousands of lamps from an army surplus store to collect Thorium-232, and gathered antique glow-in-the-dark watches and clocks to collect Radium-226. He even pretended to be a professor to gather materials that are normally only given to certified laboratories.

Eventually, he had enough to create a real nuclear reactor. He had a Geiger counter, and realized that the radiation was spreading down his entire block. So, he tried hiding it in the trunk of his car. One day in 1994, the police were called on Hahn because he was stealing tires off of cars. When the police opened his trunk, they found the reactor. According to Harper’s Bazaar, this “automatically triggered the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan, and state officials soon were embroiled in tense phone consultations with the DOE, EPA, FBI, and NRC.” It took over $60,000 for the government to clean up his nuclear waste, and his reactor had to be entombed in the Great Salt Lake Desert to make sure it could not harm anyone. Needless to say, the Atomic Energy merit badge has been banned from the Boy Scouts.

2. In Spain, People Have Fun Jumping Over Babies

In a Spanish village called Castrillo de Murcia, citizens continue to mix old Catholic and Pagan traditions together once a year for their Baby Jumping Festival. Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like. The babies born in the town each year are Baptized in the Catholic church. Then, a man dressed up in a yellow costume and mask that is supposed to represent the Devil runs through the streets hitting men as they run away.

Then, this same man dressed as the Devil begins running and jumping over mattresses on the ground with at least four babies laying on each one. This is called “the flight of the devil,” and it represents taking away original sin. Superstition leads people to believe that it will bring good health and prosperity to the child. As soon as the ritual is done, the mothers lay rose petals on the babies, and then bring them back to safety. So far, there have never been any recorded injuries. It is considered to be so safe, in fact, that people from all over the world are starting to bring their babies to participate in the festival each year.

1. Drinking Wine Was A Torture Method Used By The Spartans

The Spartans are remembered for being some of the best warriors in history. Every single soldier in their army was basically a perfect specimen of physical fitness. It only makes sense, then, that their attitude toward alcohol was very strict. Wine was always watered down, and they were only allowed to drink during certain times of the year. Getting drunk on purpose was unheard of, and if someone over-indulged in drinking, they were severely punished.

Young Spartans were taught about the dangers of drinking by watching the captured prisoners of war. These Helots were forced to drink “pure wine”  that had not been watered down. Once the young Spartans saw what it looked like to be drunk, it was seen as proof that it made men weak, stupid, and unprepared for battle. From the Spartans’ perspective, getting drunk was seen as a form of torture. But the Helots? They may not have minded so much. Most of us would take a glass of wine over the rack any day.


BS or Truth IV-

WIF Confidential

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 223

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 223

…at no time do you sample the wine, to do so will result in severe consequences…

COMISKEY PARK

Pentateuch-001

“This is the Communion bread. There will be one loaf per section isle and itcommunion will be served first. The consumer, (actually termed communicant), will tear off a chunk and pass it to the right, to the end of the isle. Do not eat the bread you guys, I repeat do not eat the bread,” Winters/Penty is speaking to a meeting of 500 Comiskey concessionaires, who temporarily put down their cotton candy and soda to hand out communion elements.

“The little bottles of wine will be in a tray like this one and each person will take one and pass the tray to the right.” The Boss of them glares into each and every one of their eyes. “But first we must get the wine into the bottles. Watch and listen.”

He enlists two pre-trained volunteers to demonstrate.

“Do you see how these little bottles have a screw on cap? Working in pairs, one will twist the cap counterclockwise to remove it; your partner will fill the turkey baster from the pitcher, then fill the highly collectible souvenir bottle. Then you will replace the cap and place the bottle in the tray.” Concession captain Winters is coordinating the assembly of 45,000 doses, (actually termed servings), of Communion wine. “Just like the bread, at no time do you sample the wine. To do so will result in severe consequences (fired from a $1.75/hr. job?)… No finger licking, no nothing!”

To ask these men to refrain from sampling is a stretch. A hunk of this and a sip of that, it is a well practiced perk, when no one is looking. Don’t you think the gals at the hot dog stand occasionally test the doneness of their encased meat?

In this case, any covertly consumed spiritual product will have unfortunate side-effects.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 187

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 213

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 213

…”You can certainly count on me!” – Ready, willing & evil…

Ready & Evil-001

Comiskey Concession-001

“I like you Winters, a real go-getter you are,” the director of concessions for Comiskey Park has identified our villain as a key employee (or the only one to volunteer to do something that isn’t on commission). “That event on the 28th, the one with all those teetotalers, well they need 350 gallons of wine of all things. We will be handing out 45,000 1oz. servings of Manischewitz and I – would like you to be in charge of that.”

“You can certainly count on me!” -Ready, willing & evil.

“Great, I thought I could count on you – you will need to fill, seal and be able to distribute every one of those portions in 15 minutes – that will take a miracle!”

“How do we collect the money?” Winters/Penty is playing dumb. Hell, if churches charged cash money for Communion wine, there would be significantly fewer churchgoers, the ultimate result/goal in his wicked world.

“You’re a  funny dog,  Winters! When exactly was the last time you were in a church,” implying that he didn’t have a clue about lightning striking when he enters a place of worship.

“I don’t believe in going to church. I have better things to do with my Sundays.”

“Wow, at least I’m a two-timer.”

“You cheat on your wife? Great – I mean that’s a shame – You don’t look like the type.”

“No stupid, I go to church at Christmas and Easter, hence two-timer, get it?”

Angry

“I’ll do the job, but never call me stupid again,” he states. ‘I can back up my threats you ignorant human,’ goes unstated.

His poor soak “boss” has no idea what this greasy guy is up to.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 179

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 210

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 210

Chapter Eighteen

THE SPREADING WORD

…“How can you make money by giving away free wine?” Devil Dollars aren’t redeemable…

DEVIL DOLLARS-001

On the heels of his great mischief of on March 12th, Pentateuch learns of the Billy Graham Crusades returning to Chicago. “They must be suckers for punishment.” What manner of tomfoolery can the Dark Deceptor unleash on the innocent and unsuspecting that plan to be there in late April? An infectious disease from 1000 B.C. may affect the greatest number of them, but if it gets out of control, too many of his best bad people might become ill. He is in need every rotten tomato in his shrinking basket.

Good thing for him, he can redeploy the Joseph Winters ruse, this time Mr. Winters will get a job as a concessionaire at Comiskey Park. Penty is so versatile that it’s a shame that he doesn’t use his talents for good.

Concessions

And even though his Great Deception monopoly has been pretty much shot to hell, his tormenting spirit lives on and if he can muck up all this revival nonsense, like he has done a number of times before. That would certainly make it a banner year for him.

There are no beer sales at this Major League ballpark, tailored just for the crusade Christian clientele. “How’s an angel supposed to make a decent wage?” You must keep in mind that Pentateuch is an Angel of God, although falling as far as possible from His good graces. His current lament applies to how he can poison as many of the 45,000 as inhumanely possible. “Poisoned bodies or poisoned minds, how did I do it back in 1904?”

(There have been other revivals since 1904, mainly in the British Isles and Africa, but the legacy of D.L. Moody was strong as he passed the torch on to others. But it is hard to keep the momentum going when you attempt to evangelize the entire planet; a noble but improbable undertaking.)

This time around, Penty/Winters have discovered that the concessionaires will be handing out something for free. “How can you make money by giving stuff away?” Devil Dollars aren’t redeemable.

Communion is the heavenly handout and it is only given to those who are right with God. This means that the vast majority of the forty thousand plus will eat a hunk of stale bread and drink a miser’s portion of Manischewitz wine; hmmm, the putrefying possibilities.

Libbyites-001The what-ifs and why-nots are all point toward mass mayhem. After all, what does he have to worry about? Those damned Libbyites think they have won, above all that witch Caraway; the one human that has plunked herself in the middle of his best laid plans…….but even she is given to go off and cavort with that grounded Texas fly/playboy. (She doesn’t even know -nor does he – that he has a kid in Brazil.)


Constance Caraway P.I.

Satans Place-001

Forever Mastadon


page 176

Japanese Silly Shopping Spree – WIF Around the World

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Frivolous

Ways to Spend

Money in Japan

Got some money burning a hole in your pocket? Then you should definitely visit Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun offers more bang for your buck than any other country on the planet. Whether you’re looking for something unique to eat or want a crazy way to spend the day, if you’ve got enough money, Japan has got you covered.

10. Hang Out In A Cat Cafe

cafe-of-cats

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who hate cats and those who love them. Fortunately for felines, Japan is one of the most cat-friendly nations on Earth. Japanese citizens love spending time with the four-legged fur-balls, but there’s one major problem: unless they’re married, have kids, and live in a condo, most folks can’t own pets. Japanese landlords are pretty darn strict and won’t allow cats in their apartments. So what’s a young animal lover to do?

Visit a cat café, of course! While the first café appeared in Taiwan in the late ‘90s, these kitten clubs have taken Japan by storm. Today, there are close to 150 cafés across the country, and they’re the perfect places for stressed-out office workers hoping to relax with their favorite animals. Cat cafés keep anywhere from twelve to twenty-four felines on staff, and while there are a few purebreds here and there, most are mixed breeds. Customers spend their time sipping coffee (which usually costs about $1.97 per cup), relaxing at tables or on sofas, and waiting for the kittens to come visit. Some people even sketch or take pictures of the cats, but flash photography is strictly forbidden (as is waking a sleeping cat, which sounds pretty wise).

Cat cafés attract people from all walks of life. Tourists, office workers, and businessmen all stop by to chill with the kitties. While most spend about an hour and a half, some spend up to six hours while others take off whole days from work to visit the cafés, hoping to escape the rigors of everyday life. Obviously, this can get pretty pricey. The Neko no mise café charges $1.50 for every ten minutes, and at the Calico, customers pay $9 for the first hour and about two dollars for every fifteen minutes after that. Still, if you yearn for feline affection and can’t own a pet, the cat cafés might be worth every penny.

9. Buy A Clone

clones

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish there was a Mini-Me?”  Well, if you visit Tokyo’s Clone Factory, your Dr. Evil dreams just might come true. Of course, this new-you might be a little, well, inanimate. Unfortunately, the Factory hasn’t discovered the secret of creating an actual clone, but they’ve come up with the next best thing. If you’re willing to part with $1,300-1,750, these techno-wizards can conjure up a doll that bears your exact likeness.

The process involves a lot of digital cameras and a 3D printer. After a client sits in a chair, she has her picture taken with multiple cameras, each one positioned at a different angle. When the photo shoot is finished, the technicians whip up a digital map of the customer’s head and print it onto the plaster that soon transforms into the head of a smiling (and much too lifelike) doll. The Clone Factory’s creations are extremely popular with brides hoping to memorialize their wedding day in 3D form. Of course, if you want to release your inner geek, you can deck out your doll in anime attire or Storm Trooper armor. Afterwards, you can take your doll home and creep out your friends with the 20-inch version of you sitting up on your mantle and smiling for all eternity.

8. Send Your Stuffed Animal On Vacation

Unagi-Travel

In the 2001 French hit Amelie, the eponymous heroine swipes her father’s garden gnome and sends it on a trip around the world, having a flight attendant photograph the little guy in front of famous landmarks. In Japan, Sonoe Azuma will do the exact same thing, only she charges a small fee and works with stuffed animals.

Azuma manages the crazy-yet-cute travel agency known as Unagi Travel. For $45, she’ll escort teddy bears, plush sheep and cotton-filled dogs around Tokyo, taking their snapshots in front of places like the Tokyo Tower and the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa. For $55, she’ll give toys a VIP tour of Japanese hot springs though chances are pretty good the dolls don’t spend much time in the water. And Azuma even offers her services to folks outside of Japan. She runs an English language website for clients in America and Europe where clients can consider purchasing tours of Kyoto ($95), Kumano Kodo ($55) and an enigmatic mystery tour ($35, no Beatles involved). During the trip, she keeps her clients up to date on their animals’ whereabouts via Facebook, and when the trip is over, she mails the toys and photos back home, free of charge.

While Azuma’s business sounds a bit, well, bizarre, it’s actually a source of comfort for many people. For example, her tours have helped people struggling with the loss of family members. Seeing their dolls traveling around Japan has actually lifted their spirits and helped them deal with their grief. Even more impressively, Azuma has inspired people to seize the day and make their lives extraordinary. She tells one story about a woman who suffered an illness that affected her ability to walk. At first, she was too depressed to go to therapy, but after she saw pictures of her toys traveling across Tokyo, she decided she’d visit those places herself and regained the use of her limbs. Ultimately, Unagi Travel is innocent fun and an inspiration for people who’ve given up hope of traveling themselves.

7. Hire A Friend For A Day

Hagemashi-Tai

Feeling lonely? Quite a few people in Japan have the blues too. In fact, over a million citizens suffer from hikikomori, an extreme form of loneliness where people lock themselves in their bedrooms and cut off all communication with friends and family. While most Japanese aren’t that lonely, many have trouble meeting new people. And that’s where rent-a-friend agencies come in handy.

Businesses like Hagemashi Tai (I Want to Cheer You Up) hire out actors who’ll take on most any role, from boyfriend to best man. For example, fake friends will show up at weddings and pretend to be buddies with the bride or groom. One single mom hired a guy to attend sports day at her children’s school, posing as their uncle, and one envious woman rented a phony admirer to make her lover jealous.

Similarly, Ossan Rental fills a very specific niche. The company’s name translates as “Old Guy Rental” and hires out a grand total of two men: founder and fashion expert Takanobu Nishimoto (46) and retired baseball player Mikio Sendou (65). For $10 an hour, these older gents will escort clients to shops, play games, and spend the day talking and offering advice. While Ossan Rental might sound a bit strange, their services are purely platonic (you can visit the site here) and, if nothing else, they help lonely people get and about and make actual human connections.

6. Bathe In A Wine-Filled Spa

Hakone-Kowakien-Yunessun

The Hakone Kowakien Yunessun isn’t your average onsen (hot spring). Located outside Tokyo, the Yunessun Spa Resort is only open twelve days a year, but it certainly draws a crowd. In addition to themed spas like the Ancient Roman Baths, the resort offers unusual pools filled with liquids that most of us usually think of as beverages.

For example, one emerald-colored pool is full of green tea which is supposedly good for your skin. Visitors who want something a bit stronger might slip into the coffee spa and relax in the biggest cup of Joe on the planet. (Employees actually brew the coffee in pots and roll it out to the pool in barrels.)  Of course, if you want an adult drink, there’s the sake spa which allegedly gets rid of wrinkles. Strangely, there’s a ramen bath which has plenty of pepper and pork broth, but no actual noodles. However, the most popular pool is the red wine spa, all of which flows from a giant Merlot bottle. And if you ever decide to visit Yunnessun, drop by on Valentine’s Day when the resort offers a sticky chocolate bath. Sweet!

5. Hire A Fake Priest

gaijin-priest

Christianity isn’t all that popular in Japan. While 77% of Americans and nearly 60% of Britons identify with the faith, only a measly 1% of Japanese believe in Jesus Christ. And that’s what makes Japanese weddings so incredibly weird. Nearly 90% of nuptials are done in traditional Christian fashion, complete with white dresses, Ave Maria and, most importantly, fake priests.

The fascination with Western weddings got started in the ‘80s, when millions of Japanese citizens watched celebrities like Princess Diana and singer Momoe Yamaguchi take their vows on TV. Since then, the number of Christian weddings has skyrocketed, only most of the priests officiating are white guys from the US and Europe. Of course, there are actual Japanese priests, but there are three reasons they don’t preside over most ceremonies. Firstly, there simply aren’t enough pastors to show up at every event. Secondly, most native priests aren’t crazy about this trend because most of these weddings don’t actually involve Christianity — couples are more concerned with image than Scripture, so religious themes are glossed over. Thirdly, most people don’t want Japanese priests, as many feel they aren’t “authentic.”  After all, if you’re going to have a Western wedding, you want a Westerner to run the show, right?

Sensing a golden opportunity to make quick cash, bridal companies started hiring out native-English speakers to work as priests, none of whom have religious training. In fact, many aren’t even Christians. All that matters is that they know Japanese, can read a few token verses and wrap things up in twenty minutes or less. For less than half an hour of acting, fake priests can make us much as $120 (according to a 2006 article). Of course, Japanese couples aren’t just paying the preachers. They’re paying for the churches as well. Quite a few hotels in Japan have Christian style chapels, and you can even find sanctuaries in strange spots like supermarkets. Without a doubt, it’s a bizarre trend, but hey, the couple gets their dream wedding, and the “priest” makes a couple of bucks. Everybody goes home happy.

4. Buy A Fake Finger (If You’re A Criminal)

yakuza-fingers

The fake finger industry caters to a very unique clientele: members of the Japanese Mafia, also known as the Yakuza. Why would gangsters need fake fingers, you ask? It has to do with a bloody underworld ritual known as yubitsume. If a mobster offends his superior, there’s only way to atone: he has to chop off the last joint of his pinkie, usually the left one. If he screws up again, he’ll cut the finger off at the next joint. Hopefully the gangster will get his act together, but if not, he has to move on down the hand, lopping off appendages for every offense. It’s believed this tradition stems back to the days of the samurai, when an amputated finger meant a warrior couldn’t wield his sword properly and had to rely on his master for protection. Today, it’s a sign of criminal activity, and if a gangster leaves the mob, he’ll have a really hard time getting an honest job thanks to his stubby nubs.

That’s where people like Shintaro Hayashi and Yukako Fukushima come in. Both Hayashi and Fukushima make prosthetic body parts, usually for accident victims or breast cancer patients. However, as the government cracks down on the gangs, people like Hayashi and Fukushima are getting more and more business from Japan’s criminals. Some prosthetic makers (like Fukushima) only provide fake fingers for retired gangsters hoping to start over. Others, like Hayashi, are less choosy and will produce duplicate digits for mobsters who want to keep their identities a secret while at public events.

Fake fingers can run anywhere from $1,400 to $3,000. Sure, they might be pricey, but there’s a lot of craftsmanship involved. Made out of silicone, the fingers look one hundred percent realistic. They’re custom made, each finger specially crafted to appear as a natural extension of the hand. They also curve in such a way that the wearer can grasp items without actually moving his mock appendages. Some gangsters even buy multiple fingers to match the seasons (lighter tan for winter, dark for summer) and often come back to have their prosthesis repainted, especially when the color starts fading. It’s a lucrative business, and it’s the only time gangsters don’t mind getting the finger.

3. Dine On Dirt

Ne-Quittez-Pas

Japan is home to quite a few freaky restaurants like Alcatraz ER (a hellish prison hospital) and Alice of Magic World (care to guess the theme?). However, Ne Quittez Paz stands apart from its gimmicky cousins thanks to its boxer-turned-chef Toshiro Tanabe. A Gallic gastronomist, Tanabe runs a really classy joint and has a flair for French food. Not only that, he’s constantly searching for ways to transform food into art, and that’s what inspired his craziest creation yet.

For $110 per person, Ne Quittez Paz serves a full course meal with a special ingredient: dirt. The idea of consuming soil might not sound appetizing, but rest assured — Tanabe uses only the best. It comes from a company called Protoleaf, an organization that goes to countries like Sri Lanka and India and digs ten meters below the ground to find the real primo soil. Afterwards, they heat it up, killing all the bacteria, and then ship it to Japan where Tanabe uses it to make miracles happen in his kitchen.

If you order Tanabe’s dirt special, you’ll start off with potato starch and soil soup and a side salad sprinkled with dirt dressing. Your main meal would consist of an earthy risotto and sea bass, and to end it all, you’d dine on dirt ice cream and dirt gratin. (Try not to “soil” your clothes.)  To be sure, Ne Quittez Pas is a unique restaurant and probably the only place in the world that takes “surf and turf” literally.

2. Visit An Ear Cleaning Parlor

Professional-ear-cleaning

If your ears feel a bit greasy, chances are good you’ll reach for a Q-Tip. However, things are a bit different in Japan. For a small fee, young ladies will clean your ears for you. Ear care is very important in Japanese society. In addition aiding the auditory canal, it’s believed ear cleanings improve skin health and help weight loss. In fact, clean ears are so important that some consider it a mother’s duty to keep her kids and husband wax-free. But when those kids grow up, many frequent the ear cleaning parlors that have popped up all over Japan. Since there aren’t any government regulations, anyone can start their own wax removal business, and professional ear cleaners only need seven to ten days worth of training before they can start poking around in ear canals.

If you visited an ear cleaning parlor, you’d first enter a room decorated in traditional Japanese fashion. A young woman wearing a kimono would make you a cup of tea and chat a bit before sitting on the floor. After putting your head on her lap, she’d lay a napkin over your face and whip out her mimikaki. Essentially a pick made out of bamboo, metal or plastic, the mimikaki comes equipped with a special scoop for scraping out stubborn chunks of ear wax. Services generally last for thirty to seventy minutes and can cost from $32 to $100. In addition to the cleaning, some parlors offer ear massages and even ear divinations. By examining all the folds and flaps of an ear, workers claim they can actually predict your future.

It probably won’t come as a surprise that most ear salon clients are men. Many claim they’re seeking out these peculiar parlors because having their ears cleaned reminds them of their childhoods. However, there’s often a sexual element involved, and workers are allowed to walk away if they feel threatened by the customers. Sadly, sometimes things get out of hand, like the 2009 case when a woman was stabbed to death for rejecting a client’s advances. Fortunately, these incidents are few and far between, and ear cleaning parlors continue to exist on the bizarre border of nostalgia and sex.

1. Buy Crooked Teeth

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Any single ladies in the audience with crooked teeth? If so, you should buy a plane ticket and fly to Japan. Overcrowded mouths are all the rage in the Land of the Rising Sun, where snaggletoothed girls are considered super cute. In fact, they’re considered so attractive that many are intentionally wrecking their smiles in the name of beauty.

This toothy style (known as tsuke-yaeba) became fashionable thanks to celebrities like pop singer Tomomi Itano, whose naturally twisted teeth made guys go nuts. Inspired by their idol, trendy teens (and even women in their 20’s) started visiting special clinics where dental beauticians built some truly bizarre bridgework. For $400, dentists will glue fake ivories onto real teeth, giving the impression that the molars are shoving the canines forward. And if a girl is unsure about this new look, she can just buy temporary teeth. However, lots of ladies decide to go with permanent caps.

Evidently, this fanged fashion is so popular that there’s even a girl band where the members all sport tsuke-yaeba. But what is it about crooked teeth that make them so appealing? According to the guys, these multi-layered grins make girls more approachable. Their imperfections make it easier for dudes to strike up a conversation. On top of that, crooked teeth are often described as “impish” and give girls a childlike quality that some guys go for. (They must love Kirsten Dunst movies.)  While tsuke-yaeba might sound strange to Westerners, is it really any weirder than Botox injections and fake tans? Remember, beauty is in the eye in the beholder — or in this case, the mouth.


Japanese Silly Shopping Spree –

WIF Around the World

Dwindling Resources from WIF

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10 Resources

We’re Running Out Of

Like it or not, resources are finite. If we don’t use them carefully, we’ll run out. But while we’ve all heard the scary stories about peak oil, we’re guessing you had no idea that we’re running the risk of hitting peak banana.

10. Bananas

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Latin America is the largest cultivator of bananas in the world, with the area being responsible for around 70% of world production. That makes for a $8.9 billion a year industry. Humans have been growing bananas for at least 10,000 years, and they’re an important part of the everyday diet for countless people. They’re rich in magnesium, potassium and vitamins C and B6, making them themost consumed fruit in many countries.

The bananas we’re accustomed to, the Cavendish species, is the only type grown on a large scale. It’s a monoculture, meaning that every banana tree is one and the same and all bananas in every supermarket are basically clones of each other. Recently, a banana fungus known as Tropical Race 4 began attacking banana trees, inhibiting their ability to extract nutrients from the soil. This fungus can’t be killed by any current fungicides and can easily move from place to place by sticking to boots, clothing, tools and even water. It’s spread to Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and appears to have hit Latin America as well.

The only way to stop this plight is to quarantine and destroy the infected plants. Otherwise the Cavendish will be all but wiped out, forcing us to replace it with one of the other 1200 banana species out there. These other breeds look and taste different, but maybe that’s something we’ll have to adjust to.

9. New Music

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The Gracenote database holds 130 million songs from around the world. If we were to listen to them all day and night, it would take us 1200 years. That’s not even close to what all the possible combinations of tones put together can add up to, and we can safely say that new music will be created as long as humans exist.

But humans have a relatively small capacity to hear sounds — our range is between 20 and 20,000 Hz. Together with the fact that we have a preference for only particular notes and have a tendency to borrow and remix songs and tones from the past, the number we’re talking about drops significantly. The exact date when all possible combinations of sounds capable of forming new and enjoyable music will be reached is unknown and likely far in the future, but we have to keep in mind that someday it will come to an end.

8. Wine

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As temperatures keep rising, predictions show that large areas where grapes are currently grown will be unsuitable by 2050. Vineyards need cold winters and hot, dry summers, and places like Bordeaux, Rhone, Tuscany, Chile, Argentina, Southeast Europe and Napa Valley will no longer be able to do so. Even the vineyards in Southern Africa and Australia will suffer tremendously, with simulations showing a 70-75% drop in production over the next several decades. We’ve already see the effects of climate change on wine production, with a 4% drop in 2014.

These famous wine countries won’t be completely unable to produce, but tremendous expenses in irrigation and other special adjustments will need to be made in order for them to continue production. Fortunately, other areas will become perfect for wine production, such as Germany, the Netherlands or even England and Yellowstone Park. Central China and Tasmania could also do well in the near future. But most of these areas are either cultivated with something else or are wild. Moving the wine industry would be extremely costly, and could threaten animals like the panda with extinction.

7. Helium

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Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe. It’s also among the lightest. That means the helium that’s here on our planet escapes the atmosphere on a regular basis.

Besides being a source of fun at kid’s parties, helium is also used for welding, as a super coolant for MRI machines, in the Large Hadron Collider, in diving and in growing silicon crystals, among other important uses. The reason we don’t notice the scarcity of the gas is because the United States National Helium Reserve, which houses around one billion cubic meters of the stuff, was mandated back in 1966 to sell all helium at extremely low prices until 2015.

Now that the reserve is almost up, we’ll most likely see a steep rise in helium prices because now we have to make our own. To do so, we need to tap into natural gas production, since 7% of it is helium. Qatar finished building a facilityin 2013 which is capable of producing 60 million cubic meters, making it the second largest producer after the US.

6. Honey Bees

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Bees have been around for some 74 to 146 million years, before the continents even drifted apart. Their appearance seems to coincide with the evolution of the first flowering plants. Currently there are several species, but the most common and most useful to us is the  European Honeybee. This species was domesticated as early as 1000 BC in Egypt, and has since been transported to every continent for their delicious honey and useful wax.

Today these little insects are under threat by a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has wiped out 36% of hives in the US alone. The causes behind this plight are varied and not completely understood. Scientists believe that mites, infectious agents, weather patterns, electromagnetic radiation, pesticides, poor nutrition and stress are the main factors, as well as the Israeli acute paralysis virus. CCD was first documented in 2006, and no viable solution has been found yet. And even if you think you could live without honey and wax, bees pollinate over one third of the world’s food supply. Without them, plants can’t grow and reproduce.

5. Medical Isotopes

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Utilized in detecting bone cancer and brain and kidney diseases, medical isotopes are used by over 70,000 people every day. They make use of a radioactive tracer called technetium-99m which is made inside research nuclear reactors. Back in 2009, two of these reactors shut down for repairs since they’re over half a century old.

This flung the medical community into a panic, and many professionals had to resort to older and less reliant techniques for treatment which involve exposing patients to high doses of radiation. There’s no stored supply of the isotope, because it only has a 12 hour lifespan. Nevertheless, it’s used in over 80% of all medical imaging worldwide.

What’s even more disturbing is that the Canadian Chalk River reactor, which produces more than a third of the world’s Tc-99, will permanently shut down in 2016, leaving a gap in the isotope supply chain that no one can fill anytime soon. Some North American companies are looking into the problem and seem to have come up with a way of producing Tc-99 without the need of nuclear reactors. But the miles of red tape they have to get past, together with the fact that it will take them years before any viable production will begin, will leave countless people without a reliable diagnosis.

4. Caviar

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We all know that caviar is a luxury food — a spoonful can cost as much as a full meal. Caviar is made from the eggs of the beluga sturgeon, native to the Caspian and the Black Sea. It can live for more than 100 years, and can weigh up to two metric tons. They’ve been around since the time of the dinosaurs, but recently it’s  been classified as critically endangered because of overfishing and loss of habitat.

The United States imports over 80% of the world’s caviar, which is worth around $100 million per year, but the black market is believed to be 10 times larger. An import ban has been put in place in both the US and EU to conserve and regenerate the population of sturgeons. This has led to prices skyrocketing from $2000 per kilogram to a whopping $10,000. This steep rise has made the black market explode, and not even a 10 year suspension of activities from countries producing caviar — Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Russia — has been able to properly stop it.

3. Sardines

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While we’re on the subject of dwindling marine life, here’s another fish that will soon disappear from supermarket shelves. This is due to overfishing and thecooling of the North Pacific waters since the 1990s. Sardines love slightly warmer waters, and a sudden shift in temperature can have dire consequences on the marine ecosystem.

This phenomenon wasn’t a surprise, as scientists has been warning it could happen. Nevertheless, heavy fishing continued, and in 2013 fishing nets of the Pacific coast of Canada came up empty. This happened before in the 1940s when the waters cooled and the sardine population dropped, but now that there are more fishing boats their population will take even longer to replenish, if they ever do.

What’s even more troublesome is that because of size-selective fishing, the average size of many fish species has dropped to about half of what they used to be in the 1970s. Laws and regulations were put in place to preserve younger fish, while the bigger ones were up for grabs. Since only smaller fish were left in the oceans, their offspring were also smaller. That’s one well-intended law that backfired.

2. Antibiotics

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Antibiotics aren’t disappearing, but they are becoming obsolete. Like every living thing on Earth, bacteria are constantly evolving to better cope with outside forces. That’s why over 23,000 people die each year in the US alone from antibiotic-resistant microorganisms.

This is a natural event, but one that was greatly accelerated by the overuse of antibiotics for simple cases sore throats and virus related illnesses which can’t be cured with antibiotics. We also take on antibiotics when we eat most kinds of meat.

To make matters worse, pharmaceutical companies have found that investing in antibiotic related development is no longer worthwhile financially, and are diverting investments into chronic illness drugs that can be used over the long term. The situation looks so overwhelming that some have proposed the money come from the military budget, since this situation may soon become a matter of national defense.

1. Sand

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Coming back home from the beach with sand all over your swimwear could soon be a thing of the past, since there will be no more beaches to go to. Because of rising sea levels and increased storm activity, not to mention massive erosion caused by human shore line development, somewhere between 70 to 90 percent of the world’s beaches are disappearing.

This phenomenon isn’t visible to those of us living inland who only visit the seaside in the summer, but people closer to beaches can attest that sand is brought in by the truckload every season to fill in the gaps. You might think that using desert sand would be a great solution since it just sits there doing nothing, but that type of sand is much finer than beach sand and will simply be blown away by the wind. That’s why Dubai replenishes its beaches every year with sand shipped all the way from Australia.

In Africa and Asia, beaches are stripped bare by people collecting sand for construction sites. People go to the seaside not to sunbathe and swim, but to gather what sand is left, sometimes risking their lives for a few buckets of sand while the tides pull at their feet and waves crash overhead. So maybe next summer just take the family to the local pool instead.

Dwindling Resources from WIF

Out of Grapes

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E.E. Cummings

“his lips drink water

but his heart drinks wine”

― E.E. Cummings

Oliver Goldsmith

“I love everything that is old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines.”

― Oliver GoldsmithThe Vicar of Wakefield

Martin Luther

“Beer is made by men, wine by God.”

― Martin Luther

Out of Grapes