Monday, October 29, 2007
Halloween stirs imagination in costume-loving Japan
Sun Oct 28, 2007
By Sophie Hardach
TOKYO (Reuters) - A handful of giggling Japanese women wearing devil's horns and cat costumes gather under a giant neon-orange pumpkin outside a Tokyo shopping mall.
"Halloween is different," Saori says, giggling as she tugs at her hooded cape with cat ears.
The cult around fancy dress, and Japan's love of quirky festivals and eccentric trends in general, may go towards explaining why Halloween has turned from an obscure foreign celebration into a popular cultural event here.
"Japanese wear suits every day, so at the weekend they like to be different," says Saori's friend Akiko.
In fact, the street party in Kawasaki, on the outskirts of Tokyo, is just a warm-up to Halloween on October 31.
Shopping malls in other Asian countries, too, have picked up on this aspect of Halloween. Around this time of the year, cobwebs and jack-o-lanterns adorn shops and bars in Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore and Seoul, tapping into a deeper Asian interest in the otherworld that shows through in local festivals for the dead.
Halloween, or All Hallow's Eve, has its roots in Celtic tradition and marks the night before All Saints Day.
Ei, a father of two, has organized trick-and-treat evenings for children in his Tokyo neighborhood for the past four years together with other Japanese, American and European families.
Last year, Ei dressed up as a huge traffic cone to watch over little princesses and Spider-men trick-or-treating in his street. Some twenty-odd families in his neighborhood agreed to open their houses that year, and were swamped by more than 500 children. "I hope it doesn't grow more," he said.
Full Story at: http://www.reuters.com/article/inDepthNews/idUST12652320071029?feedType=RSS&feedName=inDepthNews
Saturday, October 27, 2007
He's the world's most famous gorilla, playing the drums to an audience of millions in the Cadbury ad. But how's it done? With 27 radio-controlled motors, a three man team and countless hand-tied yak hairs.It was what you might call a hairy situation. But, as the ape picked me up and swung me around a deserted car park, somewhere in the middle of California, a feeling of surprising calm and security washed over me. I rubbed his paunch. He patted my head, clumsily, and I don't mind telling you it was a beautiful moment. For this was not your average six-foot primate. This was the world's first celebrity gorilla, whose televised drum solo has led to instant stardom, worldwide renown - and a monster surge in chocolate consumption. It was a privilege to meet him.
There is something utterly compelling about the 90-second Cadbury's commercial which first aired two months ago and features the beast in private rapture as he drums along to Phil Collins's In The Air Tonight. And the result has been a quite astonishing success. So far, the advertisement has received six million hits from viewers on the internet. It has even prompted the re-release of Collins's 1981 hit, pushing it back into the Top 20 - an even more improbable occurrence, you might think, than a drumming gorilla. Most pertinently for those concerned, though, Cadbury's unique brand of wild rock has resulted in a nine-percent rise in sales of Dairy Milk chocolate bars.
Viewers have been left both gripped and bewildered by the joyful ape, which is life-like down to the flaring nostrils and the curling lips. Many believe a real animal was trained to work the pedals and the sticks. Some have claimed that Phil Collins himself was wearing a hairy suit.
Today, however, I can reveal that the man behind - or should that be inside? - the gripping performance is American actor Garon Michael, a primate specialist who has starred as a great ape in the films Congo, Instinct and the recent Planet Of The Apes remake.
If you missed the performance or want to see it again I have it posted here:
Full story and good pictures at:
By LiveScience Staff
posted: 26 October 2007 03:00 pm ET
Researchers at New Mexico State University have discovered the world’s hottest chili pepper. It's called the Bhut Jolokia, a variety originating in Assam, India.
In tests that yield Scoville heat units (SHUs), the Bhut Jolokia reached 1 million SHUs, almost double the SHUs of former hotshot Red Savina (a type of habanero pepper), which measured a mere 577,000. The result was announced today by the American Society for Horticultural Science.
Paul Bosland, director of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences collected seeds of Bhut Jolokia while visiting India in 2001. He grew the plants for three years to produce enough seeds to complete the field tests.
"The name Bhut Jolokia translates as 'ghost chile,'" Bosland explained. "I think it’s because the chile is so hot, you give up the ghost when you eat it!"
Thursday, October 25, 2007
By Jerry Adler and Jeneen Interlandi
NEWSWEEK Oct 29, 2007 Issue
Behold yourself, for a moment, as an organism. A trillion cells stuck together, arrayed into tissues and organs and harnessed by your DNA to the elemental goals of survival and propagation. But is that all? An electron microscope would reveal that you are teeming with other life-forms. Any part of your body that comes into contact with the outside world—your skin, mouth, nose and (especially) digestive tract—is home to bacteria, fungi and protozoa that outnumber the cells you call your own by 10, or perhaps a hundred, to one.
Their ancestors began colonizing you the moment you came into the world. There are thousands of different species, found in combinations "as unique as our DNA or our fingerprints," says Stanford biologist David Relman, who is investigating the complex web of interactions microbes maintain with our digestive, immune and nervous systems. Where do you leave off, and they begin? Microbes, Relman holds, are "a part of who we are."
As antibiotics lose their effectiveness, researchers are returning to an idea that dates back to Pasteur, that the body's natural microbial flora aren't just an incidental fact of our biology, but crucial components of our health, intimate companions on an evolutionary journey that began millions of years ago. The science writer Jessica Snyder Sachs summarizes this view in four words in the title of her ground-breaking new book: "Good Germs, Bad Germs." Our microbes do us the favor of synthesizing vitamins right in our guts; they regulate our immune systems and even our serotonin levels: germs, it seems, can make us happy. They influence how we digest our food, how much we eat and even what we crave. The genetic factors in weight control might reside partly in their genes, not ours. Regrettably, it turns out that bacteria exhibit a strong preference for making us fat.
Some bacteria seem to be both good and bad. The best-known is Helicobacter pylori, a microbe that has evolved to live in the acid environment of the stomach. It survives by burrowing into the stomach's mucous lining and secreting enzymes that reduce acidity. Nobel laureates Barry Marshall and Robin Warren showed it could cause gastric ulcers and stomach cancer. But then further studies discovered that infection with H. pylori was protective against esophageal reflux and cancer of the esophagus, and may also reduce the incidence of asthma. H. pylori, which is spread in drinking water and direct contact among family members, was virtually universal a few generations ago but is now on the verge of extinction in the developed world. The result is fewer ulcers and stomach cancer, but more cancer of the esophagus—which is increasing faster than any other form of cancer in America—more asthma, and … what else? We don't know. "H. pylori has colonized our guts since before humans migrated out of Africa," says Blaser. "You can't get rid of it and not expect consequences."
And there's one more thing that microbes can do, perhaps the most remarkable of all. Mycobacterium vaccae, a soil microbe found in East Africa that has powerful effects on the immune system, was tested at the University of Bristol as a cancer therapy. The results were equivocal, but researchers made the startling observation that patients receiving it felt better regardless of whether their cancer was actually improving. Neuroscientist Chris Lowry injected mice with it, and found, to his amazement, that it activated the serotonin receptors in the prefrontal cortex—in other words, it worked like an antidepressant, only without the side effects of insomnia and anxiety. Researchers believe M. vaccae works through the interleukin-10 pathway, although the precise mechanism is uncertain. But there is at least the tantalizing, if disconcerting, suggestion that microbes may be able to manipulate our happiness. Could the hygiene hypothesis help explain the rise in, of all things, depression? We're a long way from being able to say that, much less use that insight to treat people. But at least we are asking the right questions: not how to kill bacteria, but how to live with them.
(Excerpt from: Caution: Killing Germs May Be Hazardous to Your Health)
Complete story at: http://www.newsweek.com/id/57368?GT1=10450
Monday, October 22, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding.
ALL BUT ONE. He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.
He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.
He was glad he did.
The 16 year old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.
The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.
When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?" She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."
As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him,
"Mister...." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes.
She continued, "Are you Jesus?"
He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul:
"Are you Jesus?"
Do people mistake you for Jesus? That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.
If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.
You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked you and me up on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
"What's that?" he asked, unable to make out the design.
"It's a banjo," the man said sheepishly. "I'm from Alabama."
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
"She started licking her and loving her. Within a couple of days, Honey started naturally lactating," said Kathy Martin, whose husband, Jimmy, brought the kitten home six weeks ago. "The kitten took right to her."
Initially, the family worried such a big dog would be too rough for the tiny feline named Precious. But Honey showed her elation at Precious' presence, wagging her tail and prancing all over the house.
Precious now sometimes plays with dog bones, and Honey lets the kitten gnaw on her like a puppy.
"She thinks she's a dog," Kathy Martin said. "She's really fit right in."
Monday, October 8, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Authorities sealed off several premises and closed roads. The Times of London described shoppers coughing and spluttering as firefighters wearing special breathing masks sought the source of the smell.
The paper said firefighters smashed down the door of the Thai Cottage restaurant and seized extra-hot bird's eye chilies which had been left dry-frying. It said they were being prepared as part of a batch of Nam Prik Pao, a spicy Thai dip.
"The smoke didn't go up into the sky because of the rain and the heavy air," The Times quoted Thai Cottage owner Sue Wasboonma as saying. "It's the hottest thing we make."
The police spokesman said no arrests were made in the case.
"As far as I'm aware it's not a criminal offense to cook very strong chili," he said.
From: Yahoo News
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning ... uphill BOTH ways.
yadda, yadda, yadda
And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it.
But now that I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy. I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a Utopia.
And I hate to say it but you kids today, you don't know how good you've got it. I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the library and look it up ourselves.
There was no email. We had to actually write somebody a letter with a pen. Then you had to walk outside and put it in the mailbox and it would take like a week to get there.
There were no MP3's or Napsters. You wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself. Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio and the DJ'd usually talk over the beginning and screw it all up.
We didn't have fancy stuff like Call Waiting. If you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a busy signal, that's it. And we didn't have fancy Caller ID Boxes either. When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was. It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your bookie, a collections agent, you just didn't know. You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister.
We didn't have any fancy Sony Playstation video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics. We had the Atari 2600. With games like ' Space Invaders' and 'asteroids' and the graphics sucked. Your guy was a little square. You actually had to use your imagination. And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen forever. And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died. Just like LIFE!
When you went to the movie theater there was no such thing as stadium seating. All the seats were the same height, If a tall guy or some old broad with a hat sat in front of you and you couldn't see, you were just screwed.
Sure, we had cable television, but back then that was only like 15 channels and there was no onscreen menu and no remote control. You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on. You were screwed when it came to channel surfing. You had to get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel and there was no Cartoon Network either. You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying!? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little brats!
And we didn't have microwaves, if we wanted to heat something up we had to use the stove or go build a fire ... imagine that! If we wanted popcorn, we had to use that stupid Jiffy Pop thing and shake it over the stove forever like an idiot.
That's exactly what I'm talking about. You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled! You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980!
The over 30 Crowd
In 1980 I was already over 30.