Top 10: Bizarre Health Fads

Time and time again, we here at AM come across stories that sound too outrageous to be true. Yet, without fail, we are reminded that there is no shortage of people willing to try anything at least once -- no matter how bizarre. The following is a prime example: our top 10 bizarre health fads. [via askmen]

No.10 - The Master Cleanse

Perhaps the longest-lived fad on our list is the Master Cleanse, the detoxification program that consists simply of drinking a concoction of lemon or lime juice, maple syrup, water, and Cayenne pepper -- no eating or drinking anything else -- for a minimum of 10 to a maximum of 45 days. Since 1941, Stanley Burroughs, master of the Master Cleanse, has been promoting his program as a means to rid the body of toxins. Not surprisingly, the lack of macro-nutrients and vitamins can lead to headaches, fatigue and constipation, not to mention that any weight lost is usually replaced once old food habits resume (like that wacky “eating” thing people seem so attached to). But, with a hefty amount of celeb support, the Master Cleanse will probably be around for many years to come.

No.9 - Biotape

Building on our last example of health fads gone wrong is Biotape, the pain-relieving tape disseminated by Smart Inventions Inc. Made of a space-age conductive Mylar that connects broken circuits that cause pain, Biotape and its makers fell flat when confronted by the Federal Trade Commission, having to settle for $2.5 million in consumer refunds. The product’s website is still functional, but can now only claim that the tape connects the broken chi in all of us. Who knew that our chi was broken?

No.8 - Q-Ray Ionized Bracelet

You’ve probably seen the infomercials on the Q-Ray Ionized Bracelet, a breakthrough in science that was first marketed as a pain-relief product, but then went on to promise those who wear it enhanced performance, balance and vitality. How did it achieve its magical effects? Ionization, of course. Not surprisingly, when tested, the Q-Ray was not ionized at all and its makers were court-ordered to turn over $16 million in profits as refunds to consumers due to false advertising.

No.7 - Ear Candling

When you place a long, hollow cone coated in beeswax or paraffin into your ear and let it burn, a subtle vacuum effect is created in the ear canal. This vacuuming effect reportedly draws ear wax out of the ear and thus cures a wide range of medical problems, such as ear aches, sinus infections, headaches and even vertigo -- at least that’s what proponents of ear candling claim. Of course, there is absolutely no medical support for these claims, and instead, serious reports of burns and even punctured ear drums have surfaced. Topping things off, experts even cite that ear candling offers no help for the simple management of ear wax. Next!

No.6 - Ozone Therapy

The use of triatomic ozone (O3) in medicine, referred to as ozone therapy, is nothing new. The process actually dates back to 1856 when ozone was first used to sterilize surgical equipment. Fast forward to the present and it’s still being used extensively in sterilization, extending now to food and water. Beyond sterilization, the bizarre act of infusing the blood or body cavities with ozone has been met with contentious debate, particularly since doing so can pose major health risks. Until these issues are clarified, do yourself a favor and steer clear.

No.5 - Colonics

Remember the whole Michael Phelps and Kellogg’s debacle? While it was undoubtedly a contentious issue, it was almost ironic when you consider that Kellogg’s, a company attempting to uphold moral virtue, was founded by John Kellogg, a man who insisted on the importance of performing regular yogurt enemas and who discouraged female masturbation by use of carbolic acid mutilation. While colonic cleansing does have its place in medicine -- before radiological endoscopy for example -- regular colonic cleansing is dangerous and should be discouraged.

No.4 - Cow Urine

For our next bizarre health fad, we turn our attention to a South Asian nation of one billion -- India. The cow is a sacred creature in India, to such an extent that India's biggest and oldest Hindu nationalist group, the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), hopes to turn cow urine into the next soft-drink craze. The RSS has been steadily building hype for cow urine over the past few years, promoting the liquid as a cure for a range of ailments including liver disease and, of course, cancer. By the end of this year, RSS hopes to release its "cow cola" to the masses, assuring the public that it will taste great. The taste, however, may be of little concern, considering that imposters have already begun selling knock-off buffalo urine as the real thing.

No.3 - Bee Venom

What better way to find out if you are fatally allergic to bee venom than by deliberately letting yourself get stung in the name of health? Welcome to the practice of bee venom therapy, whereby therapists apply bee venom to specific points on the surface of the body to cure or reduce symptoms of arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, herpes, and even breast cancer. Although the practice is rare in the Western world, bee venom therapy is still abuzz in China, being offered as one of an exhaustive list of folk remedies at any of the 3,000 or so traditional folk medicine clinics across the country. While apitherapy (the medicinal use of bee products, such as honey) has some medicinal usefulness, the claims for bee venom therapy are just too far-fetched to believe.

No.2 - Malariotherapy

It shouldn’t take a lot of smarts to pick up a brochure entitled Malariotherapy and promptly deposit it into the nearest trash can, yet for a fad to even exist there must be at least someone who’s tried it. Since the early 1980s, Dr. Henry Heimlich (of Heimlich Maneuver fame), has been touting the deliberate infection of malaria (a mosquito-borne disease) as therapy for a variety of ailments including Lyme disease, syphilis, and, most recently, AIDS. Yes, AIDS, a disease that attacks the immune system. Thankfully, the FDA, the CDC and numerous clinical experts have strongly rejected the practice.

No.1 - Tapeworm Diet

Anytime your dieting involves sharing your semi-digested foodstuffs with a parasite, more specifically a five meter-long beef tapeworm, it’s likely you’re taking your diet a little too far. This is the tapeworm diet, an archaic diet introduced in the early 20th century. The idea behind the tapeworm diet is rather simple, albeit stupid: Swallow a bunch of beef tapeworm pills, happily consume excess calories as your food is now being partially digested by your newfound friend, and then take medicine to rid your guest once they’ve overstayed their welcome -- fantastic! This obviously dangerous diet fell out of favor rather quickly once the FDA intervened, banning this wildly unsubstantiated fad.

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The 7 Most Horrifying Parasites on the Planet

As soon as your doctor says you've got parasites in your body, you don't need to hear any more details. They're all horrible, right? How can it get worse than little tiny worms or something feeding on your insides? [via cracked]

Actually, it can get way, way worse. As it turns out, there's nothing in nature more creative than a parasite. And we don't mean that in a good way. For instance...

The Guinea Worm Will Make You Do Its Bidding

Technically, your body is full of tiny creatures already. Bacteria, viruses and so on. So really, should we get freaked out when we find out that there's a specific kind of worm that lives under our skin? And should it really bother us that said worm can grow to be longer than your leg?

This brings us to the guinea worm. It starts small, really small. It begins life as a microscopic larva tiny enough to fit inside of the common water flea. Like the elderly residents of Florida, water fleas love to hang out in stagnant pools of water, gossiping and doing water exercises until they are unknowingly ingested by big, thirsty, humans.

So you go swimming and the flea makes its way down your throat. Now, not being adequately equipped to survive the harsh environment of the human stomach, the water flea is dissolved away, leaving the guinea worm larva behind. It finds a soft, fleshy cavity to burrow into and starts growing.

And growing.

About a year after infection, the full sized guinea worm is no longer microscopic, but instead measures two to three goddamned feet long. As long as a three year-old human child.

Being so large, a cramped human body is no longer adequate real estate. So the worm wants to get out, and here's where it gets even weirder. The worm burrows to the surface of the skin and creates a blister, and causes a burning sensation. It does this on purpose, because the worm has figured out that a burning feeling in a limb makes humans want to dunk it in water.

This is exactly what the worm wants. It pokes its wriggling head out of the blister, and releases its foul, milky brew into the water, containing hundreds of thousands more larvae. They are promptly eaten by water fleas and the whole thing starts all over again.

Is That Your Tongue, Or is it Cymothoa Exigua?

On one hand, you can relax because this one doesn't affect humans... as far as we know. On the other hand, it's about the most fucked-up thing you'll ever hear.

Cymothoa exigua is a tiny crustacean that sneaks up on a fish (specifically, a red snapper) and works its way in through the gills. Typical parasite behavior so far.

Then it attaches itself to the base of the fish's tongue, the tongue evidently being the tastiest part of the fish (get it!?). The parasite uses its claws to dig into the tongue and drink the fish's blood--and that's just the beginning.

As cymothoa exigua grows, less and less blood is able to get into the fish's tongue which causes the tongue to slowly atrophy and ultimately fall off--well, not so much "fall off" as pathetically float away, but you know what we mean.

With the tongue dead and gone, the parasite settles in and replaces the lost tongue with its own body. Somehow, cymothoa exigua is able to attach itself to the fish's tongue muscles, allowing the snapper to use it just like a normal tongue, the parasite flapping around as a permanent fixture in the fish's mouth for the rest of its life.

Why does it do this? We don't know, but we're going to go with the commonly held opinion that the cymothoa exigua simply thinks it's funny.

The Horsehair Worm's Side Effect? Suicide.

Imagine you're a happy grasshopper for a moment, joyfully kissing your grasshopper wife and kids goodbye as you leave the house, tiny briefcase in hand, ready to hop to work for the day.

Suddenly, on your way to the office, a sudden urge overtakes you, an urge that cannot be ignored. You obediently follow the siren song to the nearest body of water, and promptly fling yourself in. For weeks afterward, your widowed wife and friends will wonder what could have possibly made a perfectly happy and content grasshopper tragically commit suicide, by drowning no less. Depression? An affair gone wrong? Crushing gambling debts? No, it turns out it was just another strike from the soulless and evil menace known as the horsehair worm.

Resembling a coarse, thick horse hair (well, duh) the horsehair worm infiltrates insects, and sometimes even crabs, as a larva when the insect drinks tainted water. From inside the aforementioned grasshopper, the worm goes to work.

It weasels its way into the body cavity, and nourishes itself on the insect's tissues, sometimes growing up to a foot long. After a time, when the worm has matured, it starts to get horny, as teenagers do, and decides that the time has come to find himself a sexy mate. The problem is, all of the sexiest female worms hang out at the swimming pool club, and he's stuck inside of a prudish grasshopper.

That's a problem easily and dickishly solved by the horsehair worm, however, by simply reprogramming the insect's brain to seek out the nearest body of water and to hop right in, despite the sad fact that grasshoppers, like many other insects, can't swim.

As his former host panics and gasps its last breaths of sweet life, the worm casually slithers out of its anus, bids adieu to the drowning grasshopper and swims in search of the orgies of knotted up worms he's heard so much about.

The Filarial Worm Can Turn You into an Object of Horror

Fucking mosquitoes. As if there weren't enough reasons to hate these living dirty needles, the bastards are responsible for yet more horrifying diseases thanks to the multitude of parasites they unwittingly inject into us every time they feed.

One such parasite is the almost too-weird-to-be-real filarial worm and, yes, it does affect humans.

Nature's douchebag.

After a year spent bumming around in our bodies, the worms mature into adults and finally take up the job they were born to do, by moving into the lymphatic system. Doesn't sound so bad...

Well, here's the thing. The lymphatic system keep excess fluids moving out of your body. It's one of those unnoticed bodily tasks that you don't appreciate until it stop working. Like if, say, a bunch of worms clogged it up. The filarial worm does just that, bunches of them all working hard in the vessels near the lymph nodes, causing those vessels to become obstructed and inflamed. Shit starts backing up, and the tissue starts inflating like a freaking balloon.

Finally, you wind up with massive and debilitating enlargements of the legs and genitals, a condition commonly known as Elephantitis. Goddamn mosquitoes.

Despite his rampant case of filarial worms, this man is still too proud to use only one flip-flop.

Sacculina Will Make You Her Bitch. Literally.

Sacculina has adopted the age-old parasite disguise of sounding like a really hot Italian chick. Well, we're not fooled.

Sacculina is actually a not-at-all-hot female barnacle that is able to inject itself into various species of crab, grow inside them and eventually emerge from the carapace as a large sac. Right near his genitals.


There, sacculina goes to work. She manipulates the crab's hormones, sterilizing and basically emasculating him. Next, the parasite starts forcing changes in the crab's body to make it resemble a female, presumably by causing a couple of huge crab boobs to flop out. As the final insult, she forces her victim to perform humiliating female mating dances.

Finally when it comes time for sacculina to release her fertilized eggs--after having had sex with another sacculina on top of the poor crab's genitalia, that is--the former male crab is compelled to release them into the ocean and stir the water with his claw, as if the eggs were his own.

Where the crab's genitals used to be, that's sacculina.

Again, there are no known cases of this happening to a human, but, you know. If you see a huge egg sac growing near your junk we urge you to get it checked out right away.

Mind Control, Part I: Leocochloridium Paradoxum

Leucochloridium paradoxum is a parasite that has an impossible dream. Luey, as it shall henceforth be known, begins life literally in a puddle of shit. But Luey dreams of flight, and the method by which it achieves it is both complicated and fucked-up beyond comprehension.

First, knowing how much some animals love to eat shit, Luey lies in wait in his fecal puddle until the vacuum cleaner of nature, more commonly known as the snail, comes around to slurp it up.

Once inside the snail, Luey enacts the next part of his ingenious plan. Knowing that birds aren't too fond of eating slimy snails, he migrates to the snail's eyestalks and begins to stretch and change them into something that looks much more appetizing to birds: caterpillars.

The eyestalks that are usually so well-guarded and often retracted by the snail, are now pulsating, swollen and brightly-colored morsels of imitation caterpillar meat. Wait, it's not done.

Now is when Luey hacks into the snail's brain. It takes complete control, driving it like a little, slimy car out into the open so all of the hungry birds in the sky can see and swoop down on the irresistible caterpillar-like eyestalks.

Kind of like this.

Once inside the luxuriously spacious and soaring bird, Luey is free to feed on its insides, grow into an adult and reproduce knowing that soon, his babies will be shat out of the bird like he was, to start their own rags-to-riches lives. Meanwhile, the poor and confused snail is less one eyestalk, but has learned the hard way that eating shit is always a bad idea.

Mind Control, Part II: The Emerald Jewel Wasp

The emerald jewel wasp is a marvel of evolution. And evil.

The female, not being content with just laying her eggs in a hole and hoping the larvae find a way to survive like other insects, makes sure that her larvae will hatch right on top of their preferred food source: a cockroach. The problem with that is a typical cockroach is aggressive, and two to three times larger and beefier than the female.

She has found a way around this. An inventive, terrifying way.

Like a surgeon, the wasp uses her long stinger to penetrate the surprised cockroach, to paralyze and anesthetize the front section of its body. Now, she can take her sweet time, to make sure the second injection of her stinger is perfectly placed into a specific area of the roach's brain. She injects more venom directly into it, precisely blocking very specific receptors of neurotransmitters that essentially destroy the roach's fight or flight responses and leave it zombified.

Yes, the wasp knows how to do this.

Now in control of her very own cockroach, the wasp leads it back to her burrow. Once inside, she finally lays her egg on top of the cooperative cockroach, bites off its antennae in order to drink the roach's blood and replenish her energy, then exits the burrow, sealing it off with rocks and pebbles.

After a few days, the eggs hatch and the larvae slowly consume the insides of the roach until they form a cocoons and the roach is finally allowed to embrace the sweet relief of death. Eventually the adult wasp emerges from the cocoon/dead roach husk to begin its own life of surgical zombification.

Seriously, did you ever think you'd find yourself taking the roach's side in a situation?

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No dating, thanks, just sex

Dating culture is dead - instead, young New Zealand women are regularly getting drunk and cruising around in packs looking for men to have sex with. [via stuff]

That's one of the findings of a TVNZ Sunday investigation into the sexual behaviour of New Zealand women. The programme makers did the story after Kiwi women last year topped the Durex Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey as the world's most promiscuous.

They are reported to have an average of 20 sexual partners, double that of their Australian and British counterparts and almost three times the global average of seven.

TVNZ Sunday correspondent Janet McIntyre said there was anecdotal evidence from the five women on the show that the Durex survey findings were valid.

"There's a new kind of mating ritual sex is the point of entry into the relationship."

If the first-up sex wasn't any good women weren't prepared to waste their time progressing the relationship.

"There's no dating culture any more." In candid interviews about their sexual experiences some of the women who are all in their twenties felt empowered by having sex and wanted to celebrate and enjoy it.

McIntyre said all the women who had experienced one-night stands had been affected by alcohol, a term described by at least one expert in a report as "getting pissed and hooking up".

Men are also feeling the impact from the new sexual tactics being employed by women.

The Sunday Star-Times' Being a Bloke survey last year found that 29% of the 5000 men surveyed felt they had been pressured into having sex or had had sex unwillingly.

Young Kiwi women have an average of 20 sexual partners.

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Marijuana issue suddenly smoking hot

Smoking pot doesn’t cause schizophrenia, but marijuana as an issue sure gives our political system the symptoms. We have just elected our third president in a row who at least tried marijuana in early adulthood, yet it remains illegal. [via politico]

As we discovered again this week, President Obama, like his two predecessors, supports imprisoning people for making the same choices he made.

Beyond imprisonment, one of my policy students, who was honest on a security clearance about her one time use of pot, could lose her job for doing what Clinton, Bush and Obama did.

On television, leading comedian Jon Stewart and America’s sweetheart, Sandra Bullock, swap pot smoking stories with lighthearted abandon, laughing along with their audience, who, like most Americans, end up voting for politicians who support draconian punishments for pot users and dealers.

Year after year, major Hollywood films like Pineapple Express show potsmoking in a positive light, yet legalization remains unmentionable to both our political parties. And America’s most popular Olympian, Michael Phelps, like the majority of people his age, has tried pot, but loses millions in sponsorship when it is revealed that he has done what most of his fans have done.

Several states have legalized medical marijuana, and a few are contemplating decriminalization, and yet, other states are about to prevent those whose urine tests positive for marijuana from receiving desperately needed benefits to which they would otherwise be legally entitled.

At least eight states, including Kansas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, are actively considering making drug tests mandatory for food stamps, welfare, or unemployment. In a classic demonstration of how America has always had one drug law for the rich and one for the poor, no one has suggested drug testing recipients of billions in bailout cash. We could probably save a lot of money by testing Wall Street financiers for pot (or cocaine, for that matter).

Perhaps these accumulated paradoxes have finally become large enough for the nation to begin reconsidering its position on pot. For an issue that has been in stasis for decades, marijuana is suddenly hot, one might even say, smoking.

By jamming up the White House’s “Open for Questions” website with votes for questions about their favorite substance, advocates for the legalization of marijuana managed to force President Obama to address the issue.

This is success in Washington, even when the president chuckled derisively and came down against legalization. Of the thousands of issues in the competitive policy environment, only a few get this kind of attention.

Some think the economic crisis will help the legalization cause.

California state legislator Tom Ammiano argues that marijuana, by far the most lucrative crop with an estimated $14 billion in sales, could provide over a billion dollars of tax revenue in California alone.

There are, however, a few problems with these numbers. First, it is always tough to estimate what total sales are for any illegal substance. Good data just doesn’t exist in this area. Second, even if $14 billion is accurate, that’s the California sales total when pot is illegal. When a pothead scores a dimebag in Los Angeles, the high price is mostly a function of the illegality. He’s paying for the risks taken by the grower, the importers, and the dealers at each step of the marijuana process.

Currently, dealers risk not only jail, confiscation of property, and the burden of a criminal record, but they also face violence from other rival dealers. That’s why the markup on pot is so extreme.

Legalize pot, and perhaps 80% of its price vanishes. And since marijuana requires very little processing, unlike cocaine or heroin, the supply of pot could skyrocket if it were legalized, further driving the price down. Why pay for it when you can grow your own, tax-free?

It is also possible, though, that legalization would result in a surge in demand, since potential users who avoided it due to fear of incarceration or its high price might now indulge.

Advocates of decriminalization or legalization have reason to take cheer from many recent developments. Tax revenues, although not as high as some dreamers would wish, would certainly be substantial, and would replace the billions spent interdicting and confiscating marijuana, as well as imprisoning users and small time dealers. Legalizing marijuana would immediately remove millions of dollars in income from the international drug cartels that are making life hell in Mexico.

The tide of public opinion is slowly moving towards decriminalization. As polling expert Nate Silver recently pointed out, only 10% supported legalization in 1969, while at least 40% do so today. The younger you are, the more likely you are to have tried marijuana, and to support its legalization. NORML doesn’t have to persuade anyone to win; if they just wait for the anti-pot geezers to die, most Americans will favor legalization within a decade.

Or, they could wait for Obama to go back to the position he had when he was an obscure Illinois state legislator, just four years ago.

I don’t use pot, but I do believe that the tide of history is moving against our ridiculous and counterproductive ban on this relatively harmless substance. The question is not will we decriminalize, but when?

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Obamas Paying for White House Renovations Personally

[via nymag]

At a time when people are having trouble holding on to their houses, Barack and Michelle Obama have sensibly decided not to use taxpayers’ money to renovate theirs. New presidents are allotted $100,000 to overhaul the White House residence and the Oval Office, and the Obamas hired Hollywood decorator Michael S. Smith (known, per his site, for mixing “Old World classicism with very contemporary settings”). But the First Couple isn’t spending that money. They “are not using public funds or accepting donations of goods for redecorating their private quarters,” says Camille Johnston, director of communications for the First Lady. Nor is the couple, who reported $4.2 million in household income in 2007 tax returns, using money from the White House Historical Association, a privately funded foundation that paid for a $74,000 set of china shortly before Laura Bush left town.

But does this mean they’re going to spend more than $100,000 or less? Though Michelle Obama has talked up Pottery Barn, Smith’s client list includes cost-is-no-object types like Rupert Murdoch, Steven Spielberg, and former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain—for whom he procured that $87,783 rug. “There’s no question that he’ll get it done in the way that it’s supposed to be done,” says Smith client and Democratic donor Katherine Chez. “But how, I don’t know.” The White House declined to disclose the budget, saying that all expenses would remain private as a result of the Obamas’ decision to absorb the cost.

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34 Uses for That Can of Soda, Other Than Quenching Thirst

It's the Real Thing, it Adds Life, and You Gotta Have It, but that can or bottle of cola can also work wonders in an emergency. The chemical soup that makes up most commercial soft drinks not only makes them taste good and quench thirst, but also make them effective cleaning agents, bolt looseners, paint strippers, and possible skin softeners. More uses than MacGyver could think up. [via bachelorguy]

And since most guys usually have a can or six lying around the house, knowing what to use it for when trouble arises can save you big problems and big money. Here’s a list you should keep handy... Just in case.

1. Clean Car Battery Terminals.
There's acid in almost all carbonated drinks. And that helps strip corrosion from car battery terminals. Pour some soda over the battery terminals and let it sit for a while. Wipe off the residue with a wet cloth.

2. Clean Your Dirty Toilet Bowl.
Got bad stains, a date coming over in an hour and no toilet cleaner? Pour a can of soda into the bowl. Let it sit for an hour to let the phosphoric acid work on the stains, then brush to loosen the dirt and flush clean.

3. Remove Rust Spots From Chrome.
If you have an older car that has real chrome trim, chances are there are some small, and some not so small, rust spots developing on the chrome. Take some crumpled aluminum foil, dip it in some cola and rub the rust off the affected area.

4. Remove Rust Stains in Your Tub.
Remember how the phosphoric acid worked to clean the toilet bowl? The same acid will remove rust stains in your tub. Soak a sponge (preferably one with an abrasive side), in some cola and go to work on the stain.

5. Clean Grout.
Got some mold and mildew ruining the look of your shower? Soak a sponge with Coke and work it into the grout. Rinse wi
th water.

6. Remove Grease From Clothes.
Been working on the car all weekend and greased up more than just the engine? Pouring a can of cola into your washer, along with your regular detergent, is said to help loosen and wash away those grease stains.

7. Remove Milk Stains From Clothes.
Got milk? Soak the stain with Coke for about five minutes, then wash normally. It should get the stain out.

8. Remove Blood Stains From Clothes.
I'm not going to ask how they got there, but if you soak the stain with cola for five minutes then wash in your machine, the blood should come out. Even dried blood that's been there for a while. (Don't tell the CSI.)

9. Clean Coins.
Got a thing for shiny pennies? Collecting state quarters and want them to sparkle? Place your coins in a small dish and soak in Coke for a few hours. Rinse and wipe to a bright shine. (I wouldn't recommend this trick with a rare coin collection. Just in case.)

10. Clean Grease From Glass. Even Eyeglasses.
That same handy phosphoric acid removes grease and grime from glass. Even dried hairspray from mirrors. Just rinse thoroughly with water after.

11. Clean Oil Stains From Garage Floor or Driveway.
Pour soda over the stain, let it soak in for a while, then scrub and rinse off with a hose.

12. Clean Burnt Pans.
Forget a pot on the stove and now whatever was in it is seared to the bottom? If scrubbing won't get it off, try this: boil some Coke in the pot and the burnt-on mess should lift right out.

13. Loosen Clogged Drains.
If your sink is draining slowly and you don't have any drain cleaner in the house, pour a 2-liter bottle of cola down the drain and let the acids go to work on the clog.

14. Loosen Rusted Nuts and Bolts.
Soak a rag in cola and wrap it around the rusted-on bolt for a few minutes. The acids and carbonation will help loosen it.

15. Make Flowers Last Longer.
Got your girl some flowers and you want them to survive through the week? Pour about 1/4 cup of clear soda, like Sprite or 7-Up into a vase full of water. Sugar helps them last longer.

16. Strip Paint From Metal Patio Furniture.
Want to refinish some outdoor furniture? Do it the right way and strip off the old paint first. To make it easier, soak a towel in Coke. Let it sit on the furniture for about a week, adding more Coke whenever the towel starts to dry out. The paint should strip off easily.

17. Kill Slugs and Snails.
If these pests are invading your lawn and garden, pour a little Coke into shallow dishes or jar lids and spread them throughout your yard. The sugar attracts them, and, just like you remember from when you were a kid, the acid kills them.

18. Greener Lawn.
It's rumored that spraying Coke on your grass will keep your lawn greener into the fall months.

19. Relieve Nausea or an Upset Stomach.
According to The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies, the syrup in Coca-Cola can be used to cure upset stomachs. Just let leave the can or bottle open for about 30 minutes first, until the soda goes flat. The carbonation could have an adverse effect on your stomach.

20. Prevent Diarrhea.
Also found in The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies, if you're traveling through a country with a questionable water and/or food supply, drinking coke could keep you from making constant "runs for the border". The acids in the soda help reduce the amount of E. Coli bacteria in your intestines. This inhibits the production of toxins that can cause diarrhea.

21. Relieve Constipation.
If you are, as the Germans say, Farfrompoopin, the caffeine from a can of coke can have a
laxative effect. Much like that morning latte.

22. Stop an Asthma Attack.
Just as an
asthma attack comes on, down a couple of cans of coke. Some sources say the caffeine can help prevent an asthma attack.

23. Ease a Sore Throat.
By gargling with soda you can loosen the phlegm causing the irritation.

24. Stop a Jellyfish Sting From Stinging.
The acids in cola seem to neutralize the venom in the sting. And pouring Coke over the wound is better than having your buddy pee on it.

25. Get Gum Out of a Kid's Hair.
Want to score points with that single mom struggling to get gum out of her screaming kid's hair? Come to the rescue with your can of Coke. Soak the kid's hair for a few minutes, then rinse. The gum should come right out.

26. Strip Dye From Hair.
If you girl comes over crying that her new dye job turned her hair green, wash her hair with Diet Coke. Apparently Diet Coke has the ability to strip and/or fade bad dye jobs.

27. Get Rid of Skunk Odor.
Pissed off Pepè Le Pew and now you aren't allowed in the house? Sponge down with some cola and hose yourself off. Again, those handy acids work to neutralize the stink.

28. Use As a Moisturizer.
Mixing a capful of cola with unscented lotion is said to enhance the moisturizing effects.

29. Keep People From Slipping on Slick Floors.
If you're having an outdoor get together and you're worried about guests slipping on your back patio, try this old stagehand trick: use a mop to s
pread a thin layer of Coke on the slippery surface. It'll dry slightly sticky and tacky.

30. Give Your Hair Shine.
Pour a can of coke over your head, work it into your hair, then rinse. It's said your hair will be incredibly shiny. And impervious to slugs and snails.

31. Mousse Alternative.
Mix equal parts coke and water in a spray bottle and mix well. After you shower, spray a light coat of the mixture into your hair, then style. (I'm sure having sugar in your hair all day won't attract flies or be uncomfortable at all.)

32. Prevent Flatulence.
Adding a can of coke to a pot of pinto beans when cooking is supposed to neutralize the gas-causing compounds. (Belching? Another story.)

33. Get a Darker Tan.
There are those who say rubbing plain coke all over your body gives you a deeper tan. (There's caramel coloring in there, but I question the evenness of the result, and how long it will last.)

34. Shell Hard Boiled Eggs.
Apparently, if you soak hard boiled eggs in Coke the shells will dissolve, eliminating the need to actually have to peel them.

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Hoax Website Promising Great Tan From Computer Screen Gets 1M Hits

There is even a iPhone app for 'mobile tanning'! Yay!

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Tough task: Designing a game about your 'first time'

In an industry dominated by men, leave it to women to come up with the winning idea in a contest to create a concept for a video game about losing one's virginity. [via cnn]

On Wednesday, at the Game Developers Conference here, the two-woman team of Heather Kelley and Erin Robinson won the Game Design Challenge with just 36 hours of preparation, while their competitors had weeks to come up with concepts for a game about "your first time."

This was the sixth straight year of the design challenge, hosted annually by New York-based game developer Eric Zimmerman. The contestants are generally top-tier game designers like two-time winner and Spore and The Sims creator Will Wright, Deus Ex lead designer Harvey Smith, or 2008 winner and Leather Goddesses of Phobos creator Steve Meretzsky.

The contestants are generally given several weeks to come up with a concept for a game based on some sort of unusual challenge posed by Zimmerman. Past themes have included a game about love, a game based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson, and a game that could win the Nobel Peace Prize.

"We are in a medium that is just incredibly plastic," Zimmerman said. "We can put anything up on the screen...Still, we find every year that most of the money being put into games is put into a relatively narrow (set of) genres" that tends to include monsters, dragons, and the like.

Zimmerman added that the purpose of the challenge is "to think about how we can create games that really break away" from what's been done so many times before.

Sex and autobiography have been constant themes in literature, film, and theater, Zimmerman argued, pointing to "Lolita," the work of Henry Miller, Chaim Potok's novel, "My name is Asher Lev," and the films of Fellini and Woody Allen.

But while Zimmerman touted the widespread historical acceptance of the theme of autobiographical sex, he noted with some dismay that veteran game designer Kim Swift, who works for Valve and who created the award-winning Portal, had originally been slated to be among the contestants but had eventually been pressured by Valve to withdraw due to the theme.

"I'm saying this as a fan of Valve," Zimmerman said, "but I do find it frustrating and disturbing that Kim would be pulled from the panel."

Still, he said, after word got around about Swift's withdrawal, Lapis designer Kelley and independent developer Robinson volunteered to step up and compete.

The two ended up facing off against Meretzsky, on hand to defend his crown, and Habbo Hotel lead designer Sulka Haro.

And in the end, while all three submissions were well-received, the duo of Kelley and Robinson were judged by the audience to have very closely beaten out Meretzsky.

The two women came up with a concept for "Our first times," and presented it as a two-level game, one level for Kelley's experience and the other for Robinson's. They imagined a series of mini games that could be played on Nintendo's Wii, or possibly on Apple's iPhone.

Kelley began by explaining that her game would commence with the player having to pick an outfit for a date that was intended to conclude with their deflowering. It would have to be the least complicated outfit possible, she said, nothing with zippers that get stuck, or too many buttons or ties.

Then, there would be a mini game in which players would have to shave their legs, making especially sure not to miss the all-important spot "by the knees." Next up, dinner, and making sure to remove all the garlic from the meals, something the main character--clearly a female, since the game was presented from a woman's perspective--would have to do because of the general cluelessness of the boyfriend in question.

The next mini game would revolve around choosing the proper mood music from a selection of LPs--yes, records, since the game would be set in the timeframe of Kelley's first time. And clearly, she said, Miles Davis would have to be the choice.

The penultimate mini game would task the player with "not falling off the top bunk" in a college dorm room," while the final task would involve flicking off the smirking roommate.

The Robinson level also involved a series of mini games that commenced with "driving home from ultimate-Frisbee practice" and setting the radio station in a car--perhaps using the Wiimote dial, she said--to anything except country music. Next would be a stop at a drug store to buy a brand of condoms that doesn't terrify you, and then going "back to his place," and grappling with adjusting the tracking on his "antiquated" VCR.

Being a game concept presented from the woman's perspective, the next mini game would revolve around "making the first move. Poor guy."

And then, afterward, calling the best friend to tell the tale.

"But you have to be careful," Robinson said, "because she's next to mom and grandma on the speed dial."

Perhaps given their short notice, the mini-game concepts created by Kelley and Robinson weren't very fleshed out, something that was a shame since they seemed to be onto something. But the crowd appreciated how much effort they had put into the storyboards they'd created, and forgave the rudimentary fleshing out of the details.

Meretzsky's concept--which came in a very close second--ended up revolving around the idea of moving beyond the awkwardness of fumbling high school attempts at romance. But before explaining his final design, he talked at length about the challenges of coming up with a game idea when every possible title was too overtly sexual. He said he tried out "Where's dildo," but discarded it because "it had nothing to do with my autobiography."

And then, he thought "about the almost too obvious genre of first-person shooters."

He also threw away "Call of Booty"--because it would have "problems that would keep it off the shelf at Wal-Mart"--and then almost settled on a beat-matching idea called "Hump Hump Revolution."

And, playing off the title of Swift's hit game, as well as a popular 2008 film, he said he nearly ended up with "Zack & Miri make a Portal," but "my business people tell me paying licenses for two different (intellectual properties) is a non-starter."

In the end, he said, he came up with a three-act structure for a game based in the virtual world, Second Life, where act one involves the awkward era of high school, the second act is the more promising college years and finally, act three, happiness in the form of a series of vignettes including dates, a wedding, and then, home life.

The game, he said, would be called, "Wait, time passes."

"No matter how picked on you are," Meretzsky said, "this too shall pass. Your time will come, and you will find happiness and your place in the world."

Of the six Game Design Challenges, this year's felt the most wanting for detail and working game mechanics. That may have been because the contestants' task of building something autobiographical didn't meld well with game design. Still, the crowd, which was heavy with game designers, appreciated the efforts and shouted out their support for all three contestants.

After all, in the end, the point was to take a particularly challenging game design topic and create something that could plausibly be a working title. And who would know better the difficulties of doing so than a room full of game designers?

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Man dies trying to catch suicidal girlfriend as she jumps from 7th floor

A Chinese man was killed last night after trying to catch his suicidal girlfriend as she jumped from the seventh floor of their Quanzhou apartment building in south-eastern China. [via app]

The young man, only identified as Wang, tried to break the woman’s fall by holding out his arms, witnesses said. He was killed by the impact of her body landing on top of him, according to Perth Now.

His girlfriend survived the fall, suffering only from bone fractures and other injuries. She was not in critical condition and expected to make a full recovery.

The couple had quarreled before Wang went to the street below to try and persuade his girlfriend not to jump. It was unclear if she plummeted from a ledge or out of a window.

Hospital staffers say the woman appears confused and doesn’t know how she fell.

Perfect example of how not to make it alright. Poor guy.

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The End of Excess: Is This Crisis Good for America?

In the early 1980s, around the time Ronald Reagan became President and Wall Street's great modern bull market began, we started gambling (and winning!) and thinking magically. From 1980 to 2007, the median price of a new American home quadrupled. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed from 803 in the summer of 1982 to 14,165 in the fall of 2007. From the beginning of the '80s through 2007, the share of disposable income that each household spent servicing its mortgage and consumer debt increased 35%. Back in 1982, the average household saved 11% of its disposable income. By 2007 that number was less than 1%. (See TIME's top 25 people to blame for the financial crisis.)

The same zeitgeist made gambling ubiquitous: until the late '80s, only Nevada and New Jersey had casinos, but now 12 states do, and 48 have some form of legalized betting. It's as if we decided that Mardi Gras and Christmas are so much fun, we ought to make them a year-round way of life. And we started living large literally as well as figuratively. From the beginning to the end of the long boom, the size of the average new house increased by about half. Meanwhile, the average American gained about a pound a year, so that an adult of a given age is now at least 20 lb. heavier than someone the same age back then. In the late '70s, 15% of Americans were obese; now a third are. (Read "What's the Best Diet? Eating Less Food.")

We saw what was happening for years, for decades, but we ignored it or shrugged it off, preferring to imagine that we weren't really headed over the falls. The U.S. auto industry has been in deep trouble for more than a quarter-century. The median household income has been steadily declining this century ... but, but, but our houses and our 401(k)s were ballooning in value, right? Even smart, proudly rational people engaged in magical thinking, acting as if the new power of the Internet and its New Economy would miraculously make everything copacetic again. We all clapped our hands and believed in fairies.

The popular culture tried to warn us. For 20 years, we've had Homer Simpson's spot-on caricature of the quintessential American: childish, irresponsible, willfully oblivious, fat and happy. And more recently we winced at the ultra-Homerized former earthlings of WALL•E.

We knew, in our heart of hearts, that something had to give. Remember when each decade, not long after it finished, assumed a distinct character? We all knew and know what "the '50s" mean, and they definitively ended with the Pill, J.F.K.'s assassination and the Beatles — just as "the '60s" ended when Americans got tired of being alarmed and hectored, and "the '70s" ended when stimulants became more popular than depressants and AIDS appeared. But in all salient respects, "the '80s" — Reaganism's reshaping of the political economy, the thrall of the PC, the vertiginous rise in the stock market — did not end.

The '80s spirit endured through the '90s and the 2000s, all the way until the fall of 2008, like an awesome winning streak in Vegas that went on and on and on. American-style capitalism triumphed, and thanks to FedEx and the Web, delayed gratification itself came to seem quaint and unnecessary. So what if every year since the turn of the century the U.S. economy grew more slowly than the global economy? Stuff at Wal-Mart and Costco and money itself stayed supercheap! Even 9/11, which supposedly "changed everything," and the resulting Iraqi debacle came to seem like mere bumps in the road. Even if deep down everyone knew that the spiral of overleveraging and overspending and the prices of stocks and houses were unsustainable, no one wanted to be a buzz kill.

But now everything really has changed. More than a year into the Great Recession, we still aren't sure if there's a bottom in sight, and six months after the financial system began imploding, it's still iffy. The party is finally, definitely over. And the present decade, which we've never even agreed what to call — the 2000s? the aughts? — has acquired its permanent character as a historical pivot defined by the nightmares of 9/11 and the Panic of 2008-09. Those of us old enough to remember life before the 26-year-long spree began will probably spend the rest of our lives dealing with its consequences — in economics, foreign policy, culture, politics, the warp and woof of our daily lives. During the '80s and '90s, we were Wile E. Coyote racing heedlessly across the endless American landscape at maximum speed and then spent the beginning of the 21st century suspended in midair just past the end of the cliff; gravity reasserted itself, and we plummeted.

In the Road Runner cartoons, after each fall, the coyote is broken and battered but never dies. America isn't going to expire either. But unlike him, we will be chastened and begin behaving more wisely. For years, enthusiasts for unfettered capitalism have insisted that the withering away of enterprises and entire industries is a healthy and necessary part of a vibrant, self-correcting economic system; now, more than at any time since Joseph Schumpeter popularized the idea of creative destruction in 1942, we must endure the shocking and awesome pain of that metamorphosis. After decades of talking the talk, now we're all obliged to walk the walk.

We cannot just hunker down, cross our fingers, hysterically pinch our pennies, wait for the crises to pass, blame the bankers and then go back to business as usual. All that conventional wisdom about 2008 being a "change" year? We had no idea. Recently Rush Limbaugh appeared on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, panicking not so much about the economy but about how the political winds are blowing as a result. If we finally manage to achieve something like universal health care, Limbaugh warned, it would mean "the end of America as we know it." He's right, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. This is the end of the world as we've known it. But it isn't the end of the world.

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Stem cells to grow bigger breasts

A STEM cell therapy offering “natural” breast enlargement is to be made available to British women for the first time.

The treatment could boost cup size while reducing stomach fat. It involves extracting stem cells from spare fat on the stomach or thighs and growing them in a woman’s breasts. An increase of one cup size is likely, with the potential for larger gains as the technique improves. [via timesonline]

A trial has already started in Britain to use stem cells to repair the breasts of women who have had cancerous lumps removed. A separate project is understood to be the first in Britain to use the new technique on healthy women seeking breast enlargement.

Professor Kefah Mokbel, a consultant breast surgeon at the London Breast Institute at the Princess Grace hospital, who is in charge of the project, will treat 10 patients from May. He predicts private patients will be able to pay for the procedure within six months at a cost of about £6,500.

“This is a very exciting advance in breast surgery,” said Mokbel. “They [breasts treated with stem cells] feel more natural because this tissue has the same softness as the rest of the breast.” He said the treatment offered the potential of considerable improvement on implants: “Implants are a foreign body. They are associated with long-term complications and require replacement. They can also leak and cause scarring.”

Although the stem cell technique will restore volume, it will not provide firmness and uplift.

Mokbel believes the stem cell treatment may be suitable only for modest increases in breast size, but will conduct research to find out whether larger augmentations can be achieved: “We are optimistic we can easily achieve an increase of one cup size. We cannot say yet if we can achieve more. That may depend on the stem cells we can harvest.”

The cells will be isolated from a woman’s spare fat, once it has been extracted from her thighs or stomach, using equipment owned by GE Healthcare, a technology company. The concentrated stem cells will then be mixed with another batch of fat before being injected into the breast. It takes several months for the breast to achieve the desired size and shape.

Until now, when fat was transplanted to the breast without extra stem cells, surgeons had difficulty maintaining a blood supply to the new tissue. Surgeons believe the double concentration of stem cells under this technique promotes the growth of blood vessels to ensure a sufficient blood supply circulates to the transplanted fat.

The same technique has been used in Japan for six years, initially to treat women with breast deformities caused by cancer treatment and, more recently, for cosmetic breast augmentation in healthy women.

Mokbel is confident the therapy is safe and that, after carrying out about 30 procedures, the London Breast Institute will be able to offer the procedure to private patients.

The use of stem cells in healthy women undergoing cosmetic surgery is controversial. Medical bodies have warned that the breast enlargements should not be offered to healthy women until large-scale trials in cancer patients have shown that the new technology is safe and effective. The treatment is not yet routinely available to women solely for cosmetic purposes.

Eva Weiler-Mithoff, a consultant plastic surgeon at Canniesburn hospital in Glasgow, is leading the British arm of a European trial of stem cell therapy for women who have been left with breast deformities following removal of cancerous lumps.

So far more than a dozen British cancer patients have been treated and Weiler-Mithoff is impressed with the results. She does not believe this justifies offering the treatment to healthy women, however.

She said that while breast cancer patients regularly attend follow-up appointments, young women who have had cosmetic surgery are less likely to do so and complications could be missed.

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Did You Know? Stuff that will blow your mind

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25 Websites To Have Fun With Your Photos

Getting a little bored how your photos are presented online? How about injecting some fun and humour into it. You don’t really need to be Photoshop literate to edit and add effects into your photos. There’re some really great sites out there that allows you to add effects to your photo by using their existing effect-templates. [via hongkiat]

The best part is - most of them are free and output is shown immediately on the fly. Here’s a collection of 25 Sites To Have Fun With Your Photoswe’ve come to know. You know they don’t really have to be your photos :-)

We’ll start with 10 of our favorites, followed by the rest. Full list after jump.>

Our Top 10 Picks


One of the hottest site with tons of creative backgrounds to play around with. Now comes in 9 different languages.

Fun Photo Box

If you don’t get what you want from PhotoFunia, you reallly need to check out this site.


Create a photo mosaic of your choice for free online.


Choose a photo for the left and right side and start mixing their hairs up.


We’d say, with Photo505, Photofunia and Fun Photo Box, you’ll be buzy for days.

Yearbook Yourself

Turn your face photo into yearbook alike black & white old school photo. The service is paused and will be back this Summer.


Make funny photos by embedding your face from the photo to the various templates.


Create different fake magazine covers from your photos.

Your own Wired Cover

Powered by Xerox, this service allows you to create your own Wired magazine cover. Customized everything from titles, colors to photos.

Hollywood Hair Makeover

Love those celebrities’ hair? Wear them instantly and see how you look.

More Ways To Have Fun

Write On It

Easily create your fake pictures, captions and fake magazines and other funny jokes for you and your friends.


Create multiple interesting effects from your normal photos.


Allows you to upload any photo and create "old photo", "wanted" and "puzzle" effects out of it.



My Heritage

Making use of their face recognition technology, this site offers several fun effects you can play with your photos. Included are Celebrity Morph, Look-alike Meter, Celebrity Collage and Tag Photos.

Letter James

Letter James has nothing to do with photo effects, but instead you allows you to blend texts and words of your choice into their existing templates.


Lots of ways for you to customize your photos and express them wherever you want.

Funny Photos

Similar to Fun Photo Box and Photofunia, just different effects.


Make yourself frontpage in 136 different magazine covers.

Fake Magazine Cover

Personalized money

Get your head into that dollar bill.


Create HDR

One of the simplest way to create HDR photos online.


Add Glitter, Graphics, and Comments to personalize your images, then share with your friends!

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