Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How Do You Pick A Pet?

pups.jpgSome people claim to love their pets as much as their spouses or children, and given that, I can think of no other long-term love relationship that’s initiated so casually. Sure, there are those who spend months researching breeders and visiting litters, but a lot of people, once they figure out what kind of pet they want, just walk into a roomful of the critters and point at one.

Case in point: the dog I had growing up, Bonnie. She was a hyper-active wire-haired fox terrier — very cute — and my mom picked the breed after reading through a dog breed book and noting, strangely, that Bill Cosby had a fox terrier and really seemed to like it. And off we went to a breeder. Suddenly, my 12-year-old self was surrounded by fifteen yipping and nipping puppies, and my mother left it up to me to decide which one we’d be taking home. It took me all of thirty seconds: one came bounding up to me, intent on untying my shoelaces. I picked her up; I was hooked. As it turned out, they had already named her — Bonnie — which I decided was a ridiculous name for a dog, and would be changed as soon as we came up with something better. Which we never did — so even something as personal as the name of our dog was pre-determined (and thus sort of random).
bonnie.jpgAbove: the Bonnie in question.

There are various schools of thought on the matter, especially when choosing a dog. Don’t pick the shy one, some say: they won’t socialize with you, and when they grow up could become aggressive. (Could this always be true? I doubt it; even puppies can be tired.) There’s plenty of advice out there about what kind of pet to choose, and much depends on your living situation (cramped city apartment or open land?), your financial situation (fish aren’t as cheap as they seem), and even your emotional situation (how much attention are you willing to give your pet?).

But there’s precious little advice on what to do after you’ve made all those decisions and you’re faced with the litter — which one will become your furry life partner? There’s no interspecies E-Harmony to help you. So I ask you, fair readers: how did you pick your pet?

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Girls Record Brutal Attack On Teen To Allegedly Post On YouTube

The victim reported the attack after she was beaten so badly she had to be treated at the hospital. That's when the sheriff's office started looking into it and learned about the video.The sheriff calls it shocking, saying he's never seen anything like it. It was a vicious attack all captured on home video inside a Polk County home.When 16-year-old Victoria Lindsay arrived at her friend's house where she had been staying, six girls were waiting. Immediately, they started yelling and one girl began pummeling the victim.On the video, the girls can be heard encouraging the fight in the background, even taunting Lindsay to fight back, all while one of them held the camera. The victim's family has said it was an elaborate plot to injure and embarrass Victoria Lindsay. Lindsay's parents couldn't believe their daughter had to endure the attack."That's my Tori. Don't do that to my Tori," said the victim's mother.The 16-year-old suffered a concussion, eye injuries and several bruises. During the attack, two others were outside keeping watch according to the sheriff's office.In fact, the sheriff said, Lindsay was lured into the home for the sole purpose of capturing and posting the video on the Internet. According to the sheriff's office arrest affidavit, Lindsay told deputies they "were going to post the beating on MySpace and YouTube."Instead, it's the sheriff's office that ended up releasing it to the media and now all eight suspects accused of making it happen are charged with very serious crimes. All suspects face charges for false imprisonment and battery. Three of them were charged with kidnapping because, the sheriff's office said, they forced Lindsay into a car and drove her to another location after the beating.The suspects were identified as 17-year-old Mercades Nichols, 17-year-old Brittini Hardcastle, 14-year-old April Cooper, 16-year-old Cara Murphy, 17-year-old Britney Mayes and 15-year-old Kayla Hassell. Zachary Ashley, 17, and Stephen Schumaker, 18, were identified by deputies as the lookouts."They weren't really involved, I don't know. I'm just overwhelmed by all of it. I don't know why the girls have them involved," said Debbie Shumaker, Stephen's mother.All six of the girls attend Mulberry High School, according to the sheriff's office arrest affidavit.

Survivor recalls horrors of Cambodia genocide

Editor's note: Christiane Amanpour is currently in production on a major CNN documentary that focuses on those people who stood up and said, "Listen! We must stop the killing. Stop the genocide."

Cambodia's notorious Tuol Sleng Prison, where some 14,000 were held, is now a museum.

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- A recently disclosed memo gave U.S. interrogators the ability to use harsh methods -- what many call "torture" -- to extract information from terrorist suspects after 9/11. Around the world, critics saw it as another blow to American prestige and moral authority.

The 2003 document also invokes wartime powers to protect interrogators who violate the Geneva Conventions, for example, by the use of waterboarding -- when a prisoner is made to think he is drowning.

Half a world away, the divisive debate over whether waterboarding constitutes torture comes into sharp relief at the infamous S-21, Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

This is where the genocidal regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge imprisoned and brutalized its enemies from 1975 to 1979. I visited the once secret S-21, now a museum, with Van Nath, a former inmate. He remembers being brought here blindfolded and terrified:

"I thought that was the end of my life," he told me. "In my room people kept dying, one or two every day."

Van Nath was kept in a room packed with 50 other inmates, shackled together and forced to lie down.

"We could not sit. If we wanted to sit, we had to ask permission first. No talking, whispering or making noise," he told me.

Van Nath described how male prisoners were whipped raw, their fingernails were yanked out, they were hogtied to wooden bars. Prison guards mutilated women's genitals, ripped off their nipples with pliers. And worst of all, babies were ripped from their mothers' arms and slaughtered. Video Watch the former prisoner recount the brutality »

Van Nath was accused of being a CIA agent and given electric shock torture, but he survived when his jailers found out he was one of Cambodia's most prominent painters. And what did they make him paint?

"Pol Pot's picture. Big pictures," he told me. "I had to paint the same one again and again. If they didn't like my painting, that would have been the end of my life."

So when Pol Pot finally fell in 1979, Van Nath returned to paint what he had really seen and heard at S-21. He did it as a memorial to the 14,000 who had been tortured and executed in the prison. It's one of the few public reminders of the regime's crimes.

Take water torture, for instance. Van Nath remembers it as if it were yesterday. I gasped as I entered a room filled with his vivid depictions.

One of his paintings shows a prisoner blindfolded and hoisted onto a makeshift scaffold by two guards. He is then lowered head first into a massive barrel of water. Another shows a prisoner with cloth over his face, writhing as an interrogator pours water over his head.

Van Nath still remembers the accompanying screams: "It sounded like when we are really in pain, choking in water," he told me. "The sound was screaming, from the throat. I suppose they could not bear the torture.

"Whenever we heard the noises we were really shocked and scared. We thought one day they will do the same thing to us."

As he talked and showed me around, my mind raced to the debate in the United States over this same tactic used on its prisoners nearly 40 years later. I stared blankly at another of Van Nath's paintings. This time a prisoner is submerged in a life-size box full of water, handcuffed to the side so he cannot escape or raise his head to breathe. His interrogators, arrayed around him, are demanding information.

I asked Van Nath whether he had heard this was once used on America's terrorist suspects. He nodded his head. "It's not right," he said.

But I pressed him: Is it torture? "Yes," he said quietly, "it is severe torture. We could try it and see how we would react if we are choking under water for just two minutes. It is very serious."

Back then, Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge cadres recognized this for what it was and used it with brutal efficiency. The Cambodian genocide ultimately killed 2 million people.

Fourteen thousand of them had passed through the gates of hell at Tuol Sleng Prison

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World's smallest girl proud of her tiny

At just 1ft 11 in tall, she is dwarfed by her neighbour's baby, but Jyoti Amge is 15 years old.

  • Baby with two faces won't have surgery
  • Girl 'looks like an alien' after using hair dye
  • Heart transplant man dies like suicide donor
  • The teenager, who is the world's smallest girl according to the Indian Book of Records, has a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia. Now fully grown, she weighs just 11 lb.

    Jyoti Amge with a neighbour's 13-month old baby and with her school friends

    Far from being unhappy about her tiny size, Jyoti says that she enjoys the celebrity status her height has brought her.

    "I am proud of being small. I love the attention I get," she told the Sunday Mirror.

    "I'm just the same as other people. I eat like you, dream like you. I don't feel any different."

    Jyoti attends her local high school, in Nagpur, India, where she studies alongside classmates of her own age, though she sits at a specially made miniature desk.

    Her mother, Ranjana, 45, explained that her daughter's condition was not apparent until some time after her birth.

    "When Joyti was born she seemed quite normal. We came to know about her disorder when she was five," she said. "Jyoti is small, yet cute, and we love her very much."

    Like any other teenager, she loves listening to pop music and watching DVDs and even hopes to become a Bollywood actress.

    She has recently recorded an album with her favourite Indian pop star, Mika Singh.

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    How Deja Vu Works

    Have you ever visited a store for the first time and had it feel eerily familiar? Or maybe you're deep in conversation with a friend and you suddenly get the feeling that you've had the exact conversation before, even though you know that you haven't. If you've ever found yourself in either of these situations, you've experienced déjà vu. Sixty to 70 percent of us admit to getting this feeling at least once in our lives. The sight, sound, taste or even smell of something makes us think that we've experienced it before, although we know that we couldn't have.

    Brain Image Gallery

    human brain
    © Photographer: Yakobchuk | Agency:
    Many of the theories about déjà vu have to do with processes
    in the brain. See more brain pictures.

    There are more than 40 theories as to what déjà vu is and what causes it, and they range from reincarnation to glitches in our memory processes. In this article, we'll explore a few of those theories to shed some light on this little understood phenomenon.

    Déjà vu
    is a French term that literally means "already seen" and has several variations, including déjà vécu, already experienced; déjà senti, already thought; and déjà visité, already visited. French scientist Emile Boirac, one of the first to study this strange phenomenon, gave the subject its name in 1876.

    Déjà Vu: At a Glance
    Since déjà vu occurs in individuals with and without a medical condition, there is much speculation as to how and why this phenomenon happens.

    Need a quick summary? Click here for What is Déjà Vu?
    There are often references to déjà vu that aren't true déjà vu. Researchers have their own definitions, but generally déjà vu is described as the feeling that you've seen or experienced something before when you know you haven't. The most common misuse of the term déjà vu seems to be with precognitive experiences -- experiences where someone gets a feeling that they know exactly what's going to happen next, and it does. An important distinction is that déjà vu is experienced during an event, not before. Precognitive experiences -- if they are real -- show things that will happen in the future, not things that you've already experienced. (However, one theory about déjà vu deals with precognitive dreams that give us a "déjà vu feeling" afterwards. See the Déjà Vu and Precognitive Dreams section.)

    Hallucinations that are brought on by illness or drugs sometimes bring a heightened awareness and are confused with déjà vu. False memories that are brought on by schizophrenia can be confused with déjà vu as well. Unlike true déjà vu, which typically lasts from 10 to 30 seconds, these false memories or hallucinations can last much longer.

    Video Gallery: Inside the Brain
    A brain museum in Peru features a massive collection of nearly 3,000 brains, dating as far back as 1942. The world's largest brain bank is the U.S.-based Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center at McLean Hospital that has nearly 6,700 brains.

    Cognitive Neuroscientist Al Seckel uses visual illusions to explain why our brains respond differently to varying images. Learn about the brain's visual perceptions in this video from TED.

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    Man Jailed After Forgetting Case Of Soda Underneath Shopping Cart

    Have you ever accidentally forgot to pay for some heavy item that you stowed under you shopping cart? We have, too! Unlike one Cleveland man, however, we did not go to jail for it.

    From WLKY:

    Tom Sturgis has a long receipt showing the $157.20 worth of two grocery carts full of groceries that he bought at a Brooklyn supermarket Saturday night. After going through the self checkout, Sturgis said he forgot a $4 case of pop under the cart.

    A police officer working security at the store asked to see his receipt.

    "I went looking for the receipt, the pop wasn't on it and they decided to have me arrested," he said.

    Sturgis was arrested on a petty theft charge.

    Sturgis, who said he has never had so much as a parking ticket, found himself being led out of the store in handcuffs. He spent 11:30 p.m. until 3 a.m. in jail that night.

    At home, his wife said she couldn't believe what was happening.

    "It's over a case of pop," said Wendy Sturgis. "He turned around and offered to go back in and pay for it and the cop told him it's like robbing a bank, you just can't get caught robbing a bank and say, 'I'm sorry, I'll give you your money back.'"

    Robbing a bank? The Great Case Of Pop Robbery Of '08? Yes, I'm sure the guy's grand plan was to buy over a hundred dollars worth of groceries as a cover for his brilliant $4 pop theft.

    We humbly suggest that this police officer is not very good at his job.

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    Shock at polar bear's carp kill

    Knut on first birthday, 5 Dec 07
    Knut is no longer the cuddly cub who won German hearts

    Germany's celebrity polar bear Knut has triggered a new controversy by fishing out 10 live carp from his moat and killing them in front of visitors.

    Critics say Berlin Zoo should not have put live fish inside Knut's enclosure. But German media report that the carp were put there to eat up algae.

    There is speculation that hand-reared Knut killed the carp just for fun.

    A new polar bear cub - Flocke - made her public debut at Nuremberg Zoo on Tuesday, shown live on television.

    The zoo is expecting up to 25,000 visitors daily, eager to see Flocke (German for "snowflake"). She has also been hand-reared, because the zoo feared her mother might harm her.

    Flocke, 19 Mar 08
    Flocke threatens to eclipse Knut's popularity

    But the zoo has said it wants to avoid any repetition of "Knut mania". Knut was rejected by his mother, but Berlin Zoo decided to hand-rear him, in a controversial move.

    There has been heated debate about whether cubs rejected by their mothers should be saved or whether nature should be allowed to run its course.

    Knut is now more than a year old and has grown overweight.

    The Frankfurter Allgemeine news website reports that Knut "senselessly murdered the carp", fishing them out, playing with them and then leaving the remains.

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    6 Insane Cults (That Would Probably Be a Lot of Fun)

    Politics, sex and religion are the three things you're not supposed to discuss in mixed company. Fortunately, if you're in a cult, odds are you get to discuss those topics as much as you want. In the right cults you probably get to discuss them while having group sex. If you're allowed to speak, that is.

    The Raelian Movement

    Founded by a dude who appears to have stolen his clothes after a stint as an extra on Star Trek, the Raelians are one of the few cults that occasionally make the news down here on Earth.

    Rael lets you know on his website that he's a Frenchman who used to be a cabaret singer and a race car driver, which realistically is slightly cooler than being a carpenter like Jesus or jolly fat man like Buddha. All of this was prior to meeting an alien named Yahweh, of course, who came to Rael to tell him about the origin of mankind as well as offering him the service of several futuristic sex robots.

    Oh, hell yes. The Pope offers people holiday blessings and waves from behind bullet proof glass. Rael bangs sex robots from another galaxy. We're not saying one's cooler than the other, we're just saying sex robots are cooler than anything the Pope has probably even thought of doing.

    The movement is noted for such awesome things as claiming in 2002 to have cloned a human (which turned out to sort of being entirely untrue) and accusations of brainwashing via sex. Suavely balding leader Rael also has his own harem of women called the Order of Angels, who apparently exist just to bang the men and donate eggs to human cloning efforts.

    Not content with all this amateur whoring, Rael also has an actual subgroup of real-life whores called Rael's Girls made up solely of woman who work in the sex industry. If this whole religion sounds like some insanely clever man's diabolical plan to wear pajamas all day and fuck really gullible women then, congratulations, you may qualify to enter the inner sanctum. Membership numbers indicate followers in the tens of thousands, most of whom were probably swayed in no way by the religion having its own skank squad.

    The Cosmic People of Light Powers

    The Cosmic People of Light Powers is a Czech cult that's more intense and has a better back story than the whole Matrix trilogy combined. The Cosmic People aren't your typical downer cult. You'll find no leaders with 100 wives who tell followers he must baptize them with his semen. But the Cosmic People do believe in an alien named Ashtar Sheran.

    Ashtar has a fleet of 10 million spaceships that orbit the Earth. With that many spaceships, the odds of getting a primo suite when the time comes to leave Earth and head off for a picnic on Venus seem almost guaranteed. Score one for the true believers.

    Membership numbers are a bit sketchy with the leader of the group claiming thousands to hundreds of thousands of sympathizers, while "government" sources say a couple hundred people, and hint that all of them may be mentally ill. Nonsense, we say! The Cosmos, as we like to imagine them calling themselves, are just more open to the task of understanding the truth about the infernal saurians chipping our hearts and how, as their website says, "95 percent of our physical bodies are controlled by forces of darkness." Which means many of us only control our wang, hand or some other appendage. The rest is under the control of evil lizard men. Hey, don't act like you didn't suspect this all along.

    The website is full of useful information about these lizard men and various other aliens, all cleverly hidden by intense colors and rambling broken English. is one of the few websites we've seen with an "Evacuation" option

    It was their frequent images of flaming hearts and the terrifyingly awesome pictures of Nordic aliens which made our research team confident that space is populated by Swedish models who want nothing more than to help us destroy the lizard men, and then make sweet space love.

    Church of God with Signs Following

    Understanding why your average Sunday service bores the hell out of most churchgoers, the Church of God with Signs Following turns every service into an insane orgy of pious madness and potential fatalities that puts even the UFC to shame.

    You may know these people better as "snake handlers" and there could be anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 of them just waiting to accidentally kill themselves for the Lord on any given Sunday.

    Snake handlers engage in all the normal stuff you'd expect at a religious service: speaking in tongues, screaming, spasming, spinning in circles, occasionally drinking poison and, why the heck not, handling snakes. The faithful defend their extreme and sometimes deadly beliefs by saying everything they do comes directly from the Bible, specifically Mark 16:17-18, which if you add some words to it, says to bring a bunch of snakes into church.

    Sure, basing an entire belief system around a single passage from the Bible is pretty out there, given that there are quite a few things in the Bible that would have your ass sent straight to prison if you were to attempt them in public. But at Cracked, we don't believe in doing anything half-assed and you can't help but admire the way the church just up and ran with the snake thing. There's even the odd death at these services. Our only suggested change would be adding the word "X-TREME" in their name somewhere.

    For those in the know, of course, those deaths were just the result of people who lacked faith, faith being the universal method to prevent snake bites, followed closely by not dancing around like a drunkard at a hootenanny with a poisonous snake in your hands. And just because some people will point out the passage these churches hold as sacred, it's generally footnoted in most versions of the Bible as having most likely been edited in at a later date, it doesn't mean God doesn't want us to taunt poisonous creatures. It may mean that, but if people weren't willing to take risks for what they believe in, Jackass would have never existed. And we can all agree that God wouldn't have wanted that.

    Family International

    Also known as the Children of God and the Family of Love, these folks are the reason most of us know the word "cult" today. We say accept no substitute when you want to devote your life and soul to a group of societal outcasts.

    Most famous for giving sex a more prominent role in their beliefs than your average Amish, the Family has a tradition of religious prostitution. While suckers at regular churches handed out pamphlets threatening you with Hell if you didn't go to Church, the Family used positive reinforcement by having people fuck you to convert you, a marketing ploy that could probably sell anything from sandwiches to shoes full of broken glass.

    Since they decided to take an official stand against sexual child abuse, which they happily claim to have stopped a full 18 years after they were founded in 1968 (really, who knew child molestation was wrong before 1986?).

    They also take a stand on sexuality believing that it's cool for chicks to be bi. But only if a dude is there, which is something Jesus probably would have said if he'd thought of it. Also of note: that this cult exists in the real world and not a porno, though we can only guess at what inspired it.

    Like most Christian-based religions, the Family loves Jesus. Unlike most, they feel they literally love Jesus. During sex or masturbation, women are encouraged to imagine it's Jesus working his magic on them. Men, as you may expect, are encouraged to imagine they are women, so as not to seem gay when they think of Jesus doing them. You didn't expect that? Neither did we. But, we try to always keep an open mind.

    In fact it's nice to know that as a member you'd be way closer to the Lord than most people claim to be. Way, way closer.

    The Brethren

    Cult life may get a lot of trash from the bulk of the population and the media, but there's something to be said for a group that offers you not only a kick-ass super hero team name like the Brethren, but also tips on scoring free food. The Brethren, founded by a former marine, have a history of raiding trash receptacles for sweet, expired produce.

    The Brethren are nomadic, which means signing up is a guaranteed road trip to somewhere. Possibly the nearest Dumpster, but possibly Mexico or Canada with their exciting trash bins full of delicious tacos and dead moose.

    They live simple lives, wanting to be like Jesus, but probably without that pain in the ass crucifixion part. Also, appealing to the lazier nature of man, they feel having an actual job gets in the way of getting to heaven. It's at this point that we raise our hands and say, "THE MAN SPEAKS THE TRUTH."

    Also frowned upon are most clothes, worldly possessions and personal grooming, leaving members in brown tunics with long hair and beards, roaming the world on bicycles with backpacks like college kids trying to find themselves in Europe, minus the pot and wacky misadventures with tranny whores.

    Much of life in the Brethren seems to be wandering, preaching the good word about the ZZ Top look and living without anything at all, staying in abandoned buildings and trying hard to figure out what exactly separates them from mere hobos.

    Leader and non-hobo Jim Roberts

    Either way, all of this means you're not saddled with the expectation to hand over a chunk of your paycheck every week, because you don't have one. You don't have to worry about cleaning your house or doing the dishes because you don't have any. No cares about paying off that credit card, since you don't any. Well, maybe you have one from before your conversion, but it's not like they'll know where to send the bills.

    The House of Yahweh

    Having a leader you can believe in is the key to any good cult. Luckily, the House of Yahweh has Buffalo Bill Hawkins. And Buffalo Bill has a YouTube account.

    Unlike popular religions which try to bore us with things like scripture and goodness, the House of Yahweh is all about making sure we know what the fuck is going wrong out there in the world. For instance, did you know Satan is a woman who appoints all political and religious leaders, with the probable exception of Buffalo Bill? Or that by mid-2001 80 percent of the world's population will be killed by a nuclear war and then it won't rain for over 1,000 days? And when Y2K hits, you better make sure you're on the right side of Jesus or you're gonna be so screwed.

    Bill's book, The Nuclear Baby. Cover art by '80s-era Megadeth.

    Fortunately, Buffalo Bill is a prophet so while those Catholics are caught on the toilet when the Rapture hits, he will have found all of his followers the right mountain top to stand on to make it easier on God to take us all away and we will have all had time to have some snacks and pee before it happens.

    While some might argue that, as a prophet, maybe his dates should make sense or maybe he should have known he was about to be arrested for bigamy back in February of 2008, we believe this is probably all just part of the master plan. Look at the video again. There's totally a master plan.

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