Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Brain

Complex and poorly understood, the brain is what makes everything work properly. The body may be kept alive, but without the brain, a person can’t truly live. Here are some interesting and weird facts about the brain.
  1. Brain_090407The brain doesn’t feel pain: Even though the brain processes pain signals, the brain itself does not actually feel pain.
  2. Your brain has huge oxygen needs: Your brain requires 20 percent of the oxygen and calories your body needs — even though your brain only makes up two percent of your total body weight.
  3. 80% of the brain is water: Instead of being relatively solid, your brain 80% water. This means that it is important that you remain properlyhydrated for the sake of your mind.
  4. Your brain comes out to play at night: You’d think that your brain is more active during the day, when the rest of your body is. But it’s not. Your brain is more active when you sleep.
  5. Your brain operates on 10 watts of power: It’s true: The amazing computational power of your brain only requires about 10 watts of power to operate.
  6. A higher I.Q. equals more dreams: The smarter you are, the more you dream. A high I.Q. can alsofight mental illness. Some people even believe they are smarter in their dreams than when they are awake.
  7. The brain changes shapes during puberty: Your teenage years do more than just change how you feel; the very structure of your brain changes during the teen years, and it even affects impulsive, risky behavior.
  8. Your brain can store everything: Technically, your brain has the capacity to store everything you experience, see, read or hear. However, the real issue is recall — whether you can access that information.
  9. Information in your brain travels at different speeds: The neurons in your brain are built differently, and information travels along them at different speeds. This is why sometimes you can recall information instantly, and sometimes it takes a little longer.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Buried Alive

The Legend:
Some poor schmuck is committed to his or her eternal resting place, even though they aren’t quite ready to take that final dirt nap. Scratch marks are later found on the coffin lid along with other desperate signs of escape.
The Truth:
This not only happened, but back in the day it happened with alarming regularity. In the late 19th century, William Tebb tried to compile all the instances of premature burial from medical sources of the day. He managed to collect 219 cases of near-premature burial, 149 cases of actual premature burial and a dozen cases where dissection or embalming had begun on a not-yet-deceased body.
Now, this may seem ridiculous, but keep in mind this was an era before doctors such as the esteemed Dr. Gregory House gained the ability to solve any ailment within 42 minutes. If you went to the doctor with the flu in those days, he’d likely cover you in leeches and prescribe you heroin to suppress your cough. Their only method for determining if a person had died was to lean over their face and scream "WAKE UP" over and over again. If you didn't react, they buried you.
The concern over being buried alive back then was so real that the must-have hot-ticket item for the wealthy and paranoid were "safety coffins" that allowed those inside to signal to the outside world (usually by ringing a bell or raising some type of flag) should they awake 6-feet under. Though, answering that bell sounds like a good way to get ambushed by a zombie if you ask us.
Unfortunately safety coffins aren’t in vogue anymore, so if you’re at the cemetery and hear a muffled voice calling out "OK guys, joke’s over. Let me out!" it might be a good idea to inform someone with a shovel quickly.
Of course, that last sentence was merely facetious, there’s no way something like this could still happen today. Uh, well, except for this story about a Venezuelan man waking up during his autopsy. On second thought, you might want to consider adding a line in your will that states you’re to be buried with a gas-powered auger in your casket when you go.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A Halloween Stunt Goes Wrong in the Least Surprising Way Possible

The Legend:
A teenager manages to provide the Halloween show he’s in with the ultimate finale when, while pretending to hang himself in front of the audience, he actually hangs himself.
The Truth:
While the fine citizens of Frederica we discussed were perhaps a bit slow on the uptake, the people involved in this hanging-related legend are on the dipshit honor roll. Mainly because it's happened more than once.
Yes, people have repeatedly tried to pull off an imitation hanging for a Halloween show, forgot to include the "imitation" part and went ahead and accidentally killed themselves. Yes, they were pretty much all teenage males.
In one instance, an entire working gallows was built for a show, with the "victim" secured by a harness so that he’d stop just short of actually being hung (take a wild guess how that turned out). Now we’re just thinking aloud here, but if we were standing on a gallows, fake or not, with a rope around our necks, we’d want to take a few precautions. For example, and again just blue-skying, maybe don’t use a real rope that is tied into a real noose that is wrapped around your real neck in a way that could really kill you.
Perhaps the saddest thing about the story was how completely unnecessary the whole thing was. Here’s a tip for anyone trying to thrill kids on Halloween in the future: You don’t need to hang yourself. Just give out full-sized chocolate bars instead of those not-so-fun "fun-sized" ones. We can guarantee the tykes will be talking about the house that gave out full-sized Snickers bars long after some life-risking stunt was forgotten.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Curiously Realistic Decoration

The Legend:
What was thought to be your typically charming Halloween decoration depicting a lynched woman hanging from a tree, turns out to be a genuine suicide.
The Truth:
In the town of Frederica, Delaware, a 42-year-old woman, perhaps distraught by the fact that she lived in Delaware, hung herself from a tree near a busy road on a Tuesday night. The body managed to hang there until the next day and was viewed by many unwitting (or perhaps retarded) spectators before somebody realized it wasn't a decoration and finally called the police.
Once again it's the lack of complaints from passers-by that amaze us. Even if the hanging thing wasn't a body, it was something that looked exactly like one and would be considered an extremely distasteful Halloween decoration (unless she put on a wacky witch's costume before doing the deed).
With the political correctness these days, you'd have expected two special city council meetings and 30 letters to the editor within the first ten minutes of someone seeing it.
We can't help but wonder, if the person who eventually called the police hadn't bothered, how much longer would the body have hung there? This happened five days before Halloween. Add five days of decomposition to the equation and suddenly you have something a whole lot more terrifying.
Also, did the woman plan this? She knew what time of year it was, and intentionally hung herself in a public place. Did she want her corpse to blend in with the bed sheet ghosts and stuffed witches around the neighborhood? If so, it sounds like she may have been a fascinating person.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Funhouse Mummy

The Myth:
A prop at a carnival was discovered not to be made of the usual combination of papier mache and carni spit, but human skin and bone. All the little kiddies at the haunted house had been poking and giggling at a real, mummified dead body.
The Truth:
Apparently the smell wasn’t just coming from the convict manning the corndog stand. Back in 1976, a camera crew filming an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man began to set up in the haunted house at the Nu-Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach, Calif.

As they were moving aside a "hanging man" prop, they accidentally knocked off its arm and discovered human bones inside. Bionic, this poor sap wasn’t.
The story gets stranger. The body was actually that of criminal mastermind Elmer McCurdy, who was killed in a shootout after robbing a train in 1911. The princely sum old Elmer got killed for? $46 (and two jugs of whiskey).

McCurdy was embalmed by the local undertaker, and apparently the guy was so darn pleased with his work that he propped up the corpse in the funeral home as evidence of his skills. People were charged 5 cents to see the corpse, which they paid by dropping a nickel in the cadaver’s mouth. Remember that little bit of history the next time somebody turns their nose up at you for liking Hostel 2. Think it can’t get any stranger? Oh, you naïve fool. After several years of raking in the nickels (how exactly these coins were retrieved after being dropped into the corpse’s mouth is something probably best left to the imagination) our enterprising undertaker’s scheme was ruined when McCurdy's brothers showed up to claim him. Of course, these guys weren’t his brothers at all, but wily carnival promoters. From that point on, McCurdy’s mummy went on a morbid mystery tour all around America, popping up at carnivals all over the country before finally coming to rest in Long Beach.

McCurdy is now buried in Oklahoma. Because McCurdy apparently had the most entertaining corpse in history, they prevented anyone else from taking him on tour by dumping concrete on top of the casket.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Dead Body Under Your Matress

The Legend:
A couple checks into a hotel and have to put up with a foul odor in their room all night. They call the staff to complain and somebody figures out the stench is coming from the bed.
Now, there's no way that scenario is going to have a good ending. You're almost hoping at that point that it'll turn out the last guest just got drunk and pooped behind the headboard. But, no, the staff take off the matress and discover the couple has been sleeping over the rotting body of a dead girl who had been stuffed in the box spring.
The Truth:
This actually happened, in Las Vegas. Also, Kansas City, MO and Atlantic City, NJ and several times in Florida and California and, well, let's just say that in or under the bed in a hotel room seems to be a fairly popular destination for the recently deceased.
It makes sense if you think about it. The closet and under the bed are the two most popular places to hide just about anything, so it's not surprising a hell of a lot of corpses end up there as well. In fact, the odds are pretty good that at least once a guy has killed a prostitute, tried to stuff her under the bed, only to find there was already a body there.
The strangest part isn't that the bodies wind up in such a terrible hiding place (killers often aren't the type to plan ahead). No, the strange thing is that in almost every story people will sleep part of, or in many cases, the entire night, on top of the corpse before reporting it.
Most people we know will complain if they detect that someone might have smoked a cigarette in their room four months ago. Not these people, they slept inches above an oozing heap of rotting human flesh rather than inconvenience the hotel management by asking for a new room.

Hopefully they at least got a free continental breakfast out of the ordeal.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Medieval Hazmat Suit.

strange events in history

The bubonic plague, or the Black Death, was the third deadliest pandemic in human history. Even though Fourteenth century physicians could not figure out what was causing such a plague, they quickly figured out that it was highly contagious.
To protect themselves from the “bad air,” these plague doctors wore their own version of a Hazmat suit. This suit included a large beaked head piece that was filled with vinegar, sweet oils and other strong smelling compounds to counteract the stench of the dead and dying plague victims.
The physicians also wore a large brimmed hat, long black overcoat, and leather breeches. The overcoats were usually coated in wax as an extra precaution.
Unfortunately, these roaming plague doctors probably did more harm than good. They traveled from town to town administering to the sick. It is unknown if their remedies did any good, but it is a certainty that many of these doctors helped to spread the plague across Europe.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

AC/DC Is The Preferred Music Of Sharks

Sharks Love Acdc
Shark researchers say that AC/DC's music -- especially "You Shook Me All Night Long" -- has a calming effect on sharks
Researchers have found that sharks enjoy some tunes to help them relax.
According to a team studying the effects of music on a group of great white sharks in Australia, AC/DC -- more specifically the song "You Shook Me All Night Long" --has been shown to calm the animals. When hearing that particular hard-rock anthem, the sharks became inquisitive and much less aggressive.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Is this the new Rose West? It is beyond belief Nancy Garrido didn't know what was going on

The face of 55-year-old Nancy Garrido will come to haunt the world.
Day after day her sunken eyes behind those round glasses will stare out at us - much as the mugshots of Rosemary West and Myra Hindley did - as a haunting reminder that women are as capable as men of appalling depravities.
On Saturday, Californian prosecutors claimed she played an 'equal role' with her husband in their crimes, and charged her directly with kidnapping the blonde Jaycee Lee Dugard 'for sexual purposes'.

Nancy Garrido
Participant: Nancy Garrido is facing more charges than her husband for the abduction and systematic abused suffered by Jaycee Lee Dugard

They also accused her of 'forcible rape', 'committing a forcible lewd act upon a child' and 'false imprisonment by violence'. She faces no fewer than 16 charges - three MORE than her husband.
As the case unfolds, the world will ask how this apparently ordinary Californian woman - who never had children of her own - could have participated in the enforced subjugation of Jaycee.

Some will say that a woman couldn't have willingly committed such terrible crimes, that her husband must have forced her.
But as the official biographer of the late serial killer Frederick West, I am utterly convinced that Garrido, like Rosemary, not only knew what her husband was doing but was an active participant in the depraved abduction of Jaycee.
Indeed as the investigation expands, she might also face charges associated with the murder of 15-year-old schoolgirl Lisa Norrell and three prostitutes, Valerie Schultz, 27, Rachael Cruise, 32, and Jessica Frederick, 24 - all of whom died in the last two months of 1988.

 Phillip Garrido
 Nancy Garrido.

Manipulated: While her husband Phillip may have exercised control over Nancy any abuse she took part in, she did willingly
Police have already declared Phillip Garrido 'a person of interest' for those crimes and it seems highly probable that Nancy, too, will be investigated for her possible complicity.
When Nancy Garrido stands trial, however, there is little doubt that her lawyer Gilbert Maines will try to convince the jury that she was an ignorant bystander.
Maines might also argue that Nancy Garrido knew nothing of the prison in her back garden.
That was exactly what Rosemary West's defence counsel, the late Richard Ferguson QC, attempted to do at her 1995 trial. The ploy failed.
The jury decided that the semi-detached house occupied by Rosemary and her husband was simply too small for Fred to have kept his crimes secret. Rose WAS an active participant.
Comparisons with the Garrido-case are all too obvious. It is simply beyond belief that Nancy could not have known what was taking place in her own back yard.
But why does a woman take part in such depravity? Details of Nancy's life story are still sketchy, but from the scraps of information which have already come to light, a sinister pattern is taking shape.
Psychologists suggest that a woman such as this, who fell for a convicted sex offender and then married him in jail, is subconsciously putting herself into his hands for abuse.

Fred and Rosemary West
Merciless killers: Fred and Rosemary West

Seeing him as glamorous, and worldly, she would do anything he asked, even though - it is reported - he rarely had sex with her.
Nancy Garrido, like Rosemary West, might also come from an abusive family herself. It is significant that so far we have heard nothing from her parents or relatives - unusual in a high profile case such as this.
What we do know is that Nancy seems to have been raised as a Jehovah's Witness. She met Garrido - who was then serving 50 years for the rape and abduction of a 25-year-old casino waitress in Reno, Nevada in 1977 - while visiting an uncle who was also a prisoner at Levenworth prison in Kansas.
Psychologists think that Nancy, naive, impressionable and sexually inexperienced, would have been impressed, sexualised and then overpowered by Garrido's stories of sexual brutality.
Meanwhile, she served an added purpose for Garrido - she was proof to the prison authorities that he was reformed.
The fact that they married behind bars in 1988, and he was released shortly afterwards, proves how valuable she was. She gave him what seemed like a family life, and, by implication, proved that he would not offend again.
Garrido took Nancy back to his mother Patricia's house in Antioch - Patricia was separated from Garrido's-father, Manuel.

Nancy Garrido
Innocent bystander?

The manipulative, shrewd Garrido would then have brought both women steadily under his spell - his mother would have become ever more dependent as she descended into dementia.
And it could well be that Nancy's religious upbringing as a Jehovah's Witness provided her new husband with another means of manipulating her - telling her, as he was to tell the world, that God spoke directly to him.
Religion would be a powerful tool in the hands of a man who wanted nothing more than to manipulate - and ultimately humiliate - any woman with whom he had a relationship.
I am certain that Nancy Garrido, like Rosemary West, was groomed and manipulated by her violent husband. But that does not make either woman innocent - they did what they did willingly.
I certainly wouldn't be surprised to hear that Nancy helped her husband rape Jaycee Lee Dugard. Rosemary West did precisely that with her stepdaughter Anne-Marie, just as she did with her own daughters thereafter. Fred insisted he had to 'break them in' for sex, as early as the age of eight - and Rosemary went along with it.
The 'alternative universe' that Nancy's husband had created for her behind their tumbledown shack in Antioch had become the only world she knew - her reality. In that distorted reality, her treatment of Jaycee was normal.

Friday, 17 June 2011

THE OVITZ FAMILY – Nazi Experiments

Of all the trials and tribulations endured by those born unique, few equal the horrors chronicled by Elizabeth Ovitz as she and her siblings were tortured and experimented upon by the infamous Nazi “Angel of Death” Josef Mengele.
The Ovitz family were Transylvanian Jews. Their patriarch, Shimshon Isaac Ovitz, was a respected Rabbi and dwarf. The majority of his children, Elizabeth included, inherited his pseudoachondroplasia dwarfism and upon his sudden death his widow reasoned that the seven stunted Ovitz siblings could secure a financially sound career as a traveling music troupe. In relatively short order, the siblings formed the ‘Jazz Band of Lilliput’ and began touring Central Europe.
By 1942, despite the unstable status of Central Europe of the march of the Nazi army, the Ovitz family managed to continue touring by concealing their Jewish identities. Elizabeth was able to marry in May of that same year to a young theatre manager named Yoshko Moskovitz. The couple was forced to split just ten days after their marriage when Yoshko was drafted into a labour battalion. For another two years, the Ovitz family continued to tour, unfortunately they were in Hungary in March of 1944 when German troops occupied the country. On May 17 the Ovitz family was captured, loaded into a boxcar and sent off to Auschwitz.
Elizabeth recalled the first time she set eyes on Dr. Mengele as he stood on the platform dividing the new arrivals into those to be executed immediately and those who were to suffer the camp incarceration. Mengele was a deceptively handsome man and his eyes lit up when he saw the tiny Ovitz family. Mengele had previously tortured, experimented upon and dissected dozens of twin siblings for no reason other than to document the similarities of their internal organs and in the Ovitz family Mengele saw the ultimate test subjects. In fact, Elizabeth quoted Mengele as enthusiastically declaring: ‘Now I will have work for the next twenty years; now science will have an interesting subject to consider.’
At Auschwitz Elizabeth and her family were segregated and subjected to all manner of frenetic experimentation. As Elizabeth would write:
‘The most frightful experiments of all were the gynaecological experiments. They tied us to the table and the systematic torture began. They injected things into our uterus, extracted blood, dug into us, pierced us and removed samples. It is impossible to put into words the intolerable pain that we suffered, which continued for many days after the experiments ceased.’
The gynaecological experimentation was so severe that even the doctors assisting the procedures eventually refused to continue out of pity, whilst citing the very real possibility that the family would not be able to survive further invasive procedure. Mengele relented as he did not want to risk the lives of his favourite lab rats. Instead, he concocted and implemented new sadistic experiments.
‘They extracted fluid from our spinal. The hair extraction began again and when we were ready to collapse, they began painful tests on the brain, nose, mouth, and hand region. All stages were fully documented with illustrations. It may be noted, ironically, that we were among the only ones in the world whose torture was premeditated and ‘scientifically’ documented for the sake of future generations.”
In addition, Mengele’s physicians also painfully extracted bone marrow and pulled out teeth to find signs of hereditary disease and blinded members of the family with chemical drops.
Not content to keep his prized subject hidden within the confines of his laboratory, Mengele displayed the Ovitz family, striped nude, to groups of senior Nazis while lecturing on their inferior genetics. He also created a film for Adolf Hitler’s amusement staring the Ovitz family. The Ovitz family sang German songs when ordered to do so out of terror. Shortly before the request they had witnessed two newcomer dwarfs being killed and boiled so their bones could be exhibited in a Nazi museum.
All told, the Ovitz family endured seven month under the torturous hand of Mengele.
Auschwitz was liberated on January 27, 1945. Elizabeth and her family were rescued by Soviet troops from what was likely certain death. Just two days previous to the liberation, Mengele approached Elizabeth with a collection of glass eyes and attempted to match her shade.
During the following four years the family toured the wreckage of Eastern and Central Europe. They choreographed and performed a new routine in remembrance of their experience. Each night Elizabeth, partnered by one of her brothers, would dance the part of Life to his Death in what they called the Totentanz.
In 1949 the family emigrated to Israel and Elizabeth died in Haifa in 1992.
Josef Mengele was never captured or tried for his crimes. He died on a beach in Brazil in 1979.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

HADJI ALI – The Great Regurgitator

The Great Regurgitator, who was also billed as The Egyptian Enigma, was born Hadji Ali in Egypt in 1892. In the 1920’s Hadji Ali came to be something of an American vaudeville sensation for his unusual ability to swallow unique items, regurgitate them in an order specific to audience requests and for his ‘human water spout’ routine.
Professional regurgitation and the human water spout acts were actually nothing new. In the mid 17th century a Frenchman named Jean Royer was known for his regurgitating and spouting abilities. Another spouter, Blaise Manfre, was noted for his ability to drink water and regurgitate wine. Of course, his feat was accomplished by simply swallowing Brazil wood extract before the water which would then tint the liquid deep red. The regurgitation act was also common enough for Houdini to make mention of it, and his distaste for the act, in his book Miracle Mongers and Their Methods.
There was really no trick to the regurgitator act as it was a matter of controlled vomiting and repetitive training of the muscles of the stomach and throat to clench at will. Some performers were known to use substances to induce violent stomach spasms while retaining firm lip control, but those individuals lacked poise and presence and their careers were short lived as a result.
Ali brought a lot of unique elements to an act that had been virtually forgotten. His rather unique and foreign appearance certainly captured attention as did the vast amounts of water he was able to ingest and expel with ferocious pinpoint precision. Ali was known to swallow two or three fishbowls of water, cup by cup, and eject a six foot arc into a small waiting basin. Ali was able to accomplish the same feat even after swallowing numerous items before ingesting the water displaying some ability to compartmentalize his stomach.
In his finale, as drums roared and his assistant erected a small metal castle on stage, Ali would down a gallon of water followed by a gallon of straight kerosene. Expelling the kerosene in a powerful jet Ali would ignite the castle in flames, feed the flames with subsequent gusts, and then extinguish the inferno by driving out the water he had swallowed previously.
He performed his act a minimum of twenty-two times a week.
While other regurgitators were present in Ali’s the era, like Harry ‘The Human Hydrant’ Morton and The Great Waldo, their acts failed to really catch on. Morton’s act consisted primarily of downing mugs of beer on stage and regurgitating them before he became intoxicated and came across as being rather lowbrow while Waldo’s incorporation of living mice and rats terrified onlookers. The mere fact the Ali’s vomiting was regarded as impressive and credible entertainment certainly shows that his presentation and showmanship was remarkable.
Thankfully, Hadji Ali’s act was immortalized in the Laurel and Hardy movie “Politiquerias”, a Spanish-language version of the Laurel and Hardy movie “Chicken comes Home” and he has also appeared in a contemporary documentary called Gizmo. 
While touring England and still enjoying a wave of unexpected popularity, Hadji Ali died of heart failure on November 5th 1937 in Staffordshire, England. The tradition of professional regurgitating has since been carried on by UK native Stevie Starr.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

KITTIE SMITH – The Armless Dynamo

Katherine M. Smith, was born into a poor Chicago family on October 29, 1882. Like her two older brothers and her younger sister, ‘Kittie’ was a rather unremarkable girl and completely intact and average. That was until a sinister incident transpired and forever changed her life.
At the age of nine, Kittie’s mother suddenly passed away and she was left in the care of her progressively abusive and alcoholic father. On Thanksgiving Day of that same year, Kittie tried to stand up for herself and refused to cook dinner for her father. Outraged, Mr. Smith beat Kittie and held her arms and hands against the stove. Despite her screams, Mr. Smith held his daughter to the red-hot stove until her arms were destroyed. Too badly damaged in the incident, both arms were eventually amputated three inches from the shoulder at Cook County Hospital. Kittie remained in serious care there until February of 1892.
The Humane Society prosecuted Mr. Smith to the full extent of the law but the jury failed to convict him due to ‘lack of evidence’. Kittie became a ward of the Children’s Home Society of Illinois for several years, specifically living in the Home for Destitute and Crippled Children. It was in that home that one Dr. F. M. Gregg took an interest in the story surrounding Kittie and, as her father had by this time waived all rights and financial responsibilities, the good Doctor created an education fund for Kittie. The ‘Kittie Smith Fund’ proved to be a success and the donations allowed the doctor to bring in specialized staff, perhaps even a sideshow performer, to teach Kittie how to use her feet to accomplish common tasks. Kittie became adept a writing with her feet and loved to draw and paint. In addition, she could play the piano, type, and embroider silk. The fund also supported Kittie when she left in 1896 and paid for her board when she moved to Poynette, Wisconsin to attend public school.
During this entire time, Kittie remained thankful and optimistic. She saw other children in the home far worse off than she was and was grateful for what she had.
By 1905 Kittie’s fund was exhausted and at the age of 21 she was no longer eligible to draw from the state. Her father had passed away, her brothers were low paid labourers and her sister had been adopted. Kittie resolved to support herself and began to humbly capitalize on her tragedy by selling drawings and autobiographical pamphlets. The pamphlets she distributed were accompanied by a return card with a slot for a quarter. Upon receiving the pamphlet, the recipient would read her story and pay only if they were moved to do so. Something about the optimism and determination of the young girl resonated with the public and by March of 1906, Kittie had amassed over $35,000 in quarters.
That outpouring of support remains a testament to human sympathy and charity. An event compounded by the fact that Kittie had long ago forgiven her father and falsely claimed in her pamphlets that she lost her arms due to her own folly, by falling into a fire.
Kittie founded the Kittie Smith Company where she employed a bookkeeper, stenographer and dozen envelope stuffers. She aspired to help children with disabilities overcome their handicaps and displayed a remarkable set of skills to illustrate that nothing was impossible. In 1913, under Illinois’ new women’s suffrage law, Kitty was the first woman in Chicago to cast a ballot – and she did so using only her feet.
In the 1930s, Kitty was still inspiring people by exhibiting her wide array of remarkable skills at Coney Island and with the Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey. Shortly thereafter, she quietly slipped into the background a retired.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

KOO KOO – The Bird Girl

There are a handful of human marvels who seem to transcend time, culture and societal norms. These truly unique few become forever recognizable and iconic to the general public.   Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man will be forever famous due to his unforgettable visage. Likewise, Jo-Jo the Dog Faced Boy will forever be famous for his shaggy face and Zip the Pinhead will always furrow brows in faint recognition when his moniker is mentioned. These individuals captured the interest and imagination of the public and continue to be referenced in pop culture decades after their prime.
However, one strange character who managed to obtain this ‘celebrity of strange’ wasn’t really that strange at all. Or, at least, not when compared to other more ‘impressive’ marvels saddled with physical limitations and socially crippling conditions.
Minnie Woolsey was born in Georgia in 1880 and a wide variety of stories exist in regards to her physical condition. It is generally believed that Minnie was born with Virchow-Seckel syndrome, a condition also known as bird-headed dwarfism. The syndrome is quite rare and is characterized by a small head, stunted growth, beak-like nose, receding jaw as well as some mental limitations.  In addition, the syndrome also left Minnie almost completely bald and blind.  Toothless, odd and sporting glasses as thick as her thumb Minnie spent the majority of her formative years in a Georgia Asylum until, as legend states, she was rescued by a showman who thought her oddball looks we just odd enough to cash in on.
Minnie began her sideshow career dressed in an American Indian costume and billed as ‘Minnie-Ha-Ha’. The name was an obvious play on North Carolina’s Minnihaha Falls and the gimmick was likely a nod to the Aztec Children exhibits of yesteryear.  Minnie, initially reluctant and shy, soon came to love the attention she received as a sideshow attraction.  She was known to dance and shake excitedly and to speak in thrilled gibberish to the delight of audiences everywhere.
In 1932, Minnie landed a role in Freaks as Koo-Koo the Bird Girl and a film legend was born. The image of Minnie, dressed in a feathery costume complete with tiny plumed cap and chicken-like feet, shimmying atop a table during a wedding feast is forever synonymous with the film.  Once you seen Minnie’s performance, you will never forget it. In fact, there was actually another ‘Bird Girl’ in Freaks but few remember poor Betty Green as she was completely overshadowed by Minnie. Today Betty Greene is generally only remembered, in error, as being Koo-Koo from Freaks.
Following her film debut Minnie continued to perform as ‘Koo Koo – The Bird Girl’ and continued to wear her strange little costume for a number of years. Eventually she had stints at Coney Island where she was billed as ‘The Blind Girl from Mars’.  By that time, age or perhaps boredom had taken hold and the dancing had stopped. Minnie’s “Blind Girl’ act consisted primarily of standing or sitting near comatose, deadpanning all audience jeers and interactions.
How long Minnie was involved in human exhibition and how she passed are something of a mystery. Some accounts state that she performed well into her 80’s. There are also reports that Minnie was hit by a car in the 1960’s. Regardless of how her life ended, her peculiar appearance ensured her a small level of immortality

Sunday, 12 June 2011

These 3D chalk drawings are incredible, enjoy.

This guy continues to amaze people with his sidewalk 3D chalk drawings.

Remember, these pictures are actually flat.
Remember, these pictures are actually flat.

Remember, these pictures are actually flat.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Kim Peek

Born Laurence Kim Peek
November 11, 1951
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Died December 19, 2009 (aged 58)
Murray, Utah, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Nationality American
Ethnicity White American
Known for Megasavant
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Parents Fran Peek, Jeanne W. Buchi
Laurence Kim Peek (November 11, 1951 – December 19, 2009) was an American savant. Known as a "megasavant", he had a photographic or eidetic memory, but also social difficulties, possibly resulting from a developmental disability related to congenital brain abnormalities. He was the inspiration for the character of Raymond Babbitt, played by Dustin Hoffman, in the movie Rain Man. Unlike Babbitt, Peek was not autistic, and likely had FG syndrome.

Early life

Kim Peek, Fran Peek, and the "Most Loved Oscar" in 2007
Peek was born in Salt Lake City, Utah with macrocephaly, damage to the cerebellum, and agenesis of the corpus callosum, a condition in which the bundle of nerves that connects the two hemispheres of the brain is missing; in Peek's case, secondary connectors such as the anterior commissure were also missing. There is speculation that his neurons made unusual connections due to the absence of a corpus callosum, which resulted in an increased memory capacity. According to Peek's father, Fran Peek, Kim was able to memorize things from the age of 16–20 months. He read books, memorized them, and then placed them upside down on the shelf to show that he had finished reading them, a practice he maintained. He read a book in about an hour, and remembered almost everything he had read, memorizing vast amounts of information in subjects ranging from history and literature, geography, and numbers to sports, music, and dates. It is believed he could recall the content of at least 12,000 books from memory. Peek lived in Murray, Utah.
Peek did not walk until the age of four and then in a sidelong manner. He could not button up his shirt and had difficulty with other ordinary motor skills, presumably due to his damaged cerebellum, which normally coordinates motor activities. In psychological testing, Peek scored below average (87) on general IQ tests.

Rain Man

In 1984, screenwriter Barry Morrow met Peek in Arlington, Texas; the result of the meeting was the 1988 movie Rain Man. The character of Raymond Babbitt, although inspired by Peek, was portrayed as having autism. Dustin Hoffman, who played Babbitt, met Peek and other savants to get an understanding of their nature and to play the role accurately and methodically. The movie caused a number of requests for appearances, which increased Peek's self-confidence. Barry Morrow gave Kim his Oscar statuette to carry with him and show at these appearances; it has since been referred to as the "Most Loved Oscar Statue" as it has been held by more people than any other. Kim also enjoyed approaching strangers and showing them his talent for calendar calculations by telling them on which day of the week they were born and what news items were on the front page of major newspapers. Peek also appeared on television. He travelled with his father, who took care of him and performed many motor tasks that Peek found difficult.

Life after Rain Man

Unlike many savants, Peek had shown increasing social skills, perhaps due to the attention that had come with being perceived as the "real Rain Man". His father says that his sense of humor had been emerging since 2004 or so. Also, he had developed well beyond the stage of being a mere repository of vast amounts of information; his skills at associating information he remembered were at least one of the signs of creativity. He displayed difficulty with abstractions such as interpreting the meanings of proverbs or metaphorical terms of speech
Although never a musical prodigy, Peek's musical abilities as an adult received more notice when he started to study the piano. He apparently remembered music he had heard decades before, and could play it on the piano to the extent permitted by his limited physical dexterity. He was able to give a running commentary as he played, for example, comparing a piece to other music he had heard. Listening to recordings, he could distinguish which instruments played which part and was adept at guessing the composers of new music by comparing the work to the many thousands of samples in his memory.
In 2004, Peek met another savant, Daniel Tammet, for the UK Channel Five documentary The Boy with the Incredible Brain. He hugged Tammet and said "Some day you'll be as great as I am".

Scientific investigation

In 2004, scientists at the Center for Bioinformatics Space Life Sciences at the NASA Ames Research Center examined Peek with a series of tests including computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. The intent was to create a three-dimensional view of his brain structure and to compare the images to MRI scans done in 1988. These were the first tentative approaches in using non-invasive technology to further investigate Kim's savant abilities.
A 2008 study concluded that Peek probably had FG syndrome, a rare genetic syndrome linked to the X chromosome which causes physical anomalies such as hypotonia (low muscle tone) and macrocephaly (abnormally large head).


Peek died of a heart attack on December 19, 2009.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

José Mestre
File:José Mestre.png
José Mestre at the age of 51
Born 26 February 1956 (age 55)
Lisbon, Portugal
Nationality Portuguese
Known for Abnormal medical condition
José Mestre (born 26 of February 1956 in Lisbon, Portugal) is a man known for having a 40 cm (16 in), 5 kg (11 lb) haemangioma tumor on his face. The tumor started forming on his lips when he was 14. Mestre had not received treatment for the tumor due to "years of medical misinformation, some misdiagnosis, lack of finances, and reluctance to undergo treatment due to religious beliefs."
A documentary titled "The Man with No Face", part of the television series My Shocking Story, aired on the Discovery Channel on 6 December 2007.
In 2010, Mestre underwent four operations during a period of three months at Saint Joseph Hospital in Chicago. The life-threatening tumor was completely removed by Dr. McKay McKinnon during the first procedure, with the following three operations necessary to reconstruct his face. He is expected to return to Portugal a few weeks after the final operation.

Jose Mestre has been born as a normal child with a birth mark on his upper lip. Brought up in Lisbon, Portugal, he has led a normal life until he realized that the so called “birth mark” has started to grow covering his whole face at the time of puberty. The mark was actually a symptom of ‘haemangioma’, a tumor formation due to vascular malformation caused as the blood which should be like a stream of flowing river has turned into a lake thereby leading to deformation of face and it’s features.
The tumor started growing when he was 14 and has continued to grow even more smothering his lips, nose and one of eyes.

It’s now a 40cm wide, 5kg shockingly massive tumor.

He never treated his tumor due to medical misinformation, lack of finances and religious beliefs. Doing tasks like brushing, eating or drinking is an ordeal that he faces everyday.

The tumor has blinded him in one eye and has mode the jaw so massive that he requires the effort of his hands to open and close them.

Unable to find a job or more likely people willing to offer him job, Mestre has been supported by his sister for all financial and psychological needs.
A Discovery Channel series “My Shocking Story:The Man With No Face” has tried to capture what it feels to be like Mestre with people staring, ridiculing and taking photographs as if it was some caged animal walking freely.
But now one of Britain’s leading facial surgeon has proposed to treat Mestre off his curse. Using ultrasound technique to coagulate blood before operation the doctors have tries to cure  Mestre.