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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The 'doctor fish' are in: Tiny carp nibble away at scaly feet of Va. spa's pedicure clients

|Associated Press Writer

Fish pedicure
Tracy Roberts, 33, of Rockville, Md. has her toes nibbled on by a type of carp called garra rufa, or doctor fish, during a fish pedicure treatment at Yvonne Hair and Nails salon in Alexandria, Va. on July 17. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) _ Ready for the latest in spa pampering? Prepare to dunk your tootsies in a tank of water and let tiny carp nibble away.

Fish pedicures are creating something of a splash in the D.C. area, where a northern Virginia spa has been offering them for the past four months. John Ho, who runs the Yvonne Hair and Nails salon with his wife, Yvonne Le, said 5,000 people have taken the plunge so far.

"This is a good treatment for everyone who likes to have nice feet," Ho said.

He said he wanted to come up with something unique while finding a replacement for pedicures that use razors to scrape off dead skin. The razors have fallen out of favor with state regulators because of concerns about whether they're sanitary.
Ho was skeptical at first about the fish, which are called garra rufa but typically known as doctor fish. They were first used in Turkey and have become popular in some Asian countries.

But Ho doubted they would thrive in the warm water needed for a comfortable footbath. And he didn't know if customers would like the idea.

"I know people were a little intimidated at first," Ho said. "But I just said, 'Let's give it a shot.' "

Customers were quickly hooked.

Tracy Roberts, 33, of Rockville, Md., heard about it on a local radio show. She said it was "the best pedicure I ever had" and has spread the word to friends and co-workers.

"I'd been an athlete all my life, so I've always had calluses on my feet. This was the first time somebody got rid of my calluses completely," she said.

First time customer KaNin Reese, 32, of Washington, described the tingling sensation created by the toothless fish: "It kind of feels like your foot's asleep," she said.

The fish don't do the job alone. After 15 to 30 minutes in the tank, customers get a standard pedicure, made easier by the soft skin the doctor fish leave behind.

Ho believes his is the only salon in the country to offer the treatment, which costs $35 for 15 minutes and $50 for 30 minutes. The spa has more than 1,000 fish, with about 100 in each individual pedicure tank at any given time.

Dennis Arnold, a podiatrist who four years ago established the International Pedicure Association, said he had never heard of the treatment and doubts it will become widespread.

"I think most people would be afraid of it," he said.

Customer Patsy Fisher, 42, of Crofton, Md., admitted she was nervous as she prepared for her first fish pedicure. But her apprehension dissolved into laughter after she put her feet in the tank and the fish swarmed to her toes.

"It's a little ticklish, actually," she said.

Ho said the hot water in which the fish thrive doesn't support much plant or aquatic life, so they learned to feed on whatever food sources were available — including dead, flaking skin. They leave live skin alone because, without teeth, they can't bite it off.

In addition to offering pedicures, Ho hopes to establish a network of Doctor Fish Massage franchises and is evaluating a full-body fish treatment that, among other things, could treat psoriasis and other skin ailments.

Ho spent a year and about $40,000 getting the pedicures up and running, with a few hiccups along the way.

State regulations make no provision for regulating fish pedicures. But the county health department — which does regulate pools — required the salon to switch from a shallow, tiled communal pool that served as many as eight people to individual tanks in which the water is changed for each customer.

The communal pool also presented its own problem: At times the fish would flock to the feet of an individual with a surplus of dead skin, leaving others with a dearth of fish.

"It would sometimes be embarrassing for them but it was also really hilarious," Ho said.

Original here

Man Caught Using Impersonator to Divorce Wife

An Indian man took a new approach to the painful process of divorce recently.

Sanjib Saha decided it would be best if he hired an impersonator to act as his wife during divorce procedures in the eastern city of Kolkata.

Both Sanjib and his fake wife said they sought a mutual divorce which the court granted.

divorce Man Caught Using Impersonator to Divorce Wife pictureSanjib’s real wife found out later, when she was asked to leave their home.

She immediately appealed to a higher court charging her husband with cheating on her and faking their divorce. The court suspended the fake divorce leaving both Sanjib and his wife married once more.

“The case exposed the legal loopholes in our system,” Kaushik Chanda, lawyer of Saha’s real wife, said.

Sanjib Saha finds himself in a tough situation. If he now tries to get the divorce legally, the judge is likely to be very hard on him and rule in his wife’s favor. If he doesn’t get the divorce he has to live and stay with his wife, who he just tried to divorce with an impersonator.

I would definitely not want to be in Sanjib’s shoes…

Original here

5 Sex Experts Who Made the World a Worse Place (To Do It)

When you were a kid, did you ever have an adult tell you that masturbation could make you go blind? When you grew up, did you ever wonder where bullshit like that got started?

History is full of sex experts who, as it turns out, were just making crap up as they went along.

Samuel Auguste Tissot (1728 - 1797)

Totally full of shit yet curiously influential, Samuel Auguste Tissot was a physician and neurologist who advised the Vatican. In the 18th century he wrote on many subjects having nothing to do with sex, and perhaps he was able to speak on some of those without talking out of his ass.

So what's the problem?
This man is the source of nearly every untrue, hyper-conservative and ignorant rumor about masturbation you and everyone else has heard since the 1700s. Tissot wrote a book that detailed--based on his own observations--the horrors of what whacking off could do. He wrote of witnessing compulsive masturbators who had wasted away like heroin addicts, drooling on beds of straw, covered in their own feces, their brains so fucked from all the masturbation, they had no memory and could no longer speak.

Tissot linked a whole host of diseases and disorders to masturbating, including blurred vision, memory loss, gout and rheumatism. Notably absent: chafed willy. Why he had such a hate-on for jerking off is anyone's guess, but his influence stuck around for a couple hundred years. That's incredible considering every single male who had his advice passed on to them knew, from personal experience, that it was total bullshit.

The ghost of Tissot is watching you masturbate

Dr. Sylvester Graham (1794 - 1851)

Back in the 1800s, Graham was what we'd today call "a whack job," but what was back then known as a fan of temperance. He was big on natural foods that were free of additives (he is the father of Graham crackers, as we have pointed out previously). Surely the mind that created the Graham cracker couldn't have also spouted a bunch of crazy bullshit!

So what's the problem?
Graham believed that semen was an important part of living well, but unfortunately believed this meant you had to keep it to yourself. Because of this he believed a man shouldn't have sex more than 12 times a year.

Obviously that didn't make him much more of a fan of yanking it than ol' Tissot was before him. Graham however took it a step further and tied the whole thing to diet, believing any spicy or rich foods were apt to cause you to go into a mad stroking fit at any moment.

Meat was worst of all in Graham's eyes (if you've ever been to a company barbecue, you know how quickly they devolve into orgies with the cleaning ladies after the ribs are served). It was at this point that Graham did the only sane thing he could do and invented the Graham cracker, to save us from all that spicy, rich, lusty meat.

And you have to admit, you don't see Hooters waitresses delivering plates of Graham crackers.

Havelock Ellis (1859 - 1939)

Ellis was a British sexologist who gets credit for being one of the first to write about homosexuality without talking like it was a disease or a criminal act (in fact, he wrote the very first medical text on the subject). This was way back in 1897, putting him so far ahead of his time that most of the world still hasn't caught up. Seems OK so far ...

So what's the problem?
He never had sex. Or at least, not while he was writing on the subject. He was a virgin until age 32, when he got married. To a lesbian.

After the honeymoon, he returned to his bachelor pad and she stayed at her place, presumably busying herself with the whole being gay thing, while he practiced tirelessly at remaining a virgin. One of the things that might have made him so good at his craft: he was well known to be impotent.

So he lived his adult life as a sex-free sexologist and it was only in his '60s that he discovered the magical cure for his impotence: piss. The details aren't entirely clear, but at some point around 1919, he happened to watch a woman going to the bathroom which caused sleepy little Havelock to finally wake up, giving him his first erection at an age when most men are experiencing their last.

"I'm sorry, I didn't realize this was the ladies' room. Please, just continue what you were doing. Please."

We guess you could make the case that his sexless life allowed him to remain objective on the topic, so that he could, for instance, write a detailed description of the male erection without the usual interjection of "HAVING A BONER ROCKS!!!" that plagues the works of other males in th field. Still, it's hard to take cooking advice from a man who has never eaten.

Ironically, he was also a supporter of eugenics. So basically he believed that most of the world's problems could be solved through selective breeding and golden showers.

Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing (1840 - 1902)

Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing was a German psychiatrist, sexologist and hypnotist who coined the term masochism, meaning he could get you to put cigars out on his balls, tell him how it made you feel and then make you forget it ever happened.

His landmark book Psychopathia Sexualis, which we think was also the name of a Bond movie vixen, was one of the first to get into graphic detail about the female orgasm and sexual deviancy (the book was infamously popular among common folk who, let's just say had no academic interest in the subject).

So what's the problem?

Krafft-Ebing's main interest was deviant sexuality. The problem was, in his mind, pretty much everything he ever came across was deviant sexuality.

According to his book, any sexual act that could not result in procreation was, in fact, perverted. This meant that rape, while aberrant, was not perverted because reproduction could occur. Masochism in men was perverted, but since a woman could still get pregnant, it wasn't perverted for them.

A man having sex with a goat? Perverted. Bukkake porn? Not perverted, though it probably depends on the dude's aim. One dude having sex with three chicks at once? Well, since he could conceivably get all of them pregnant, that would presumably be the least perverted thing in the world of Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, and we're sure he brought that up at many a cocktail party.

"OK, I'm going to propose something here. Now don't freak out, it's all scientific ... "
Heba Kotb (1967 - Present)

This brings us to modern day, and Heba Kotb. Kotb is the first licensed sexologist in all of Egypt, which we suspect is kind of like being the first licensed scuba instructor in the Sahara. She's working in a culture where some people believe looking at a woman's genitals will cause a child to be born blind, and having sex during the afternoon will cause the child to be cross-eyed, a condition which is pleasing to the devil. But c'mon, you already knew that. The devil loves it when you can't tell if the person you're talking to is looking at you. Fuckin' loves it.

Anyways, Dr. Kotb has become famous as a sort of Dr. Ruth for the Middle East. She hosts a sex advice show in Egypt which is rather progressive and cool of her, we suppose.

So what's the problem?
This is still the Middle East, so for instance she won't allow discussion of anal sex, extramarital affairs or sex during menstruation, as these things are possibly also pleasing to the devil or hippies or whoever it is that's into stuff like that.

She does speak on homosexuality, comparing it to alcoholism and drug abuse, something that apparently can be cured by a 12-step program or possibly hypnotherapy. She even claims to have cured the gay right out of at least 30 people, such that they're so straight now all they think about is 'tang all the time.

But she takes a hard line on female masturbation, saying women should not touch themselves before marriage, as they need to be "blank" when they get married, presumably so they won't know exactly what it is they won't be getting during their inaugural two-minute lovemaking session.

Of course she also says there's no reason for woman to masturbate after marriage either, since the husband should be getting the job done, which seems to put a lot of pressure on both parties. Maybe it's no surprise that of everyone on Earth, Egyptians are the most likely to do a Google search for "sex." So you don't have to worry about them. The internet is a fine replacement for realistic discussions about sexual expectations, and mutually fulfilling relationships.

Original here

Faking it: How to do a Reggie and get away with it

John Darwin take note: it takes a special blend of ingenuity and common sense to stage your own death and not get caught. David Randall offers a few tips

Your debts are piling up; the job's getting on your nerves, and maybe your partner doesn't look as hot as he or she once did. It's that John Darwin canoe moment – when you think the unthinkable and wonder if life would be better if you ended it all for the old you and started over with a shiny new one. Not a real death, of course. But a phoney – staging, perhaps, your own personal Mary Celeste, with canoe or dinghy abandoned on the briny, or, like ex-minister John Stonehouse and television's immortal Reggie Perrin, a neat little pile of clothes left on the beach with their owner nowhere to be seen. Many are tempted, and a good few, like Mr Darwin of Seaton Carew and Panama fame, succumb. Faking death and having a second bite at life's cherry is a difficult area in which to give guidance, since we never, by definition, get to hear of the successful, only the failures. But their errors and weaknesses can be our instruction manual. And so, as a reader service, we've combed the record for dos and don'ts so we can present Disappearing for Dummies, or How to Do a Reggie Perrin – the 1970s sitcom character who staged a suicide in order to build a new life.

Your 'death'

It can be done. An uplifting tale of success to buoy you all up at the outset. In 1975, New Zealander Ivan Manson, aged 44, with a wife and four children, never returned from a fishing trip. His boat was found, but he wasn't. Police were sceptical. No inquest was held. We might never have been any the wiser had not two cars collided in Queensland, Australia, 20 years later. One of the bodies was identified from fingerprints as Ivan Manson. He had lived as a pillar of the local bowls club in the town of Caboolture ever since his fishing trip. Let his example be your lodestar.

Think twice about using another body: The days when you could stick a corpse of the right gender and approximate height in a car, crash it, soak it with fuel, set it alight, and trust the charred remains will be mistaken for you are – for better or worse – gone. Dental records, DNA and the high price of petrol have put paid to that. No longer is anyone likely to imitate Captain Henry Cecil Dudgeon D'Arcy of the Frontier Light Horse, who, having been awarded the VC in the Zulu wars, turned to drink. Later, a body wearing his clothes was found in a cave and, this being the pathology of a century ago, presumed to be his. Only many decades later was it learnt that D'Arcy had found a dead man lying in the snow, changed clothes with him, and gone to Natal, and lived out the rest of his life under an assumed name. He was once recognised in 1925, but swore his discoverer to the secret, which the man kept until D'Arcy died.

Don't hang around the neighbourhood

In the early 1990s, a dinghy was found washed up on a Suffolk beach. It belonged to Peter Cusworth, a retired hotelier and stress-management counsellor, who, it turned out, was mired in nearly £350,000-worth of debts. His "widow" Valerie then claimed on life insurance policies worth £200,000, but sceptical firms did not pay out. They were wise. Cusworth had not died, but had started a new life as a writer called Jonathan Miles Paget Goodwin. What was surprising was that, having gone to all that trouble, he moved away no further than Norfolk. Sure enough, when he had a rendezvous with Mrs Cusworth at Bury St Edmunds, a policeman recognised him and the game was up.

Minimise the number of people that will go looking for you

The last thing you want when on the run under a new and unfamiliar identity is to have police, insurance assessors, creditors, or all three, on your tail. Two examples will suffice. In 1995, the day before he was to go on trial for sex offences, civil servant Thomas Osmond left a note saying that he had thrown himself off the Severn Bridge. A detective was sceptical, and, three years later, found Osmond in Bristol, living as "Stephen Williams" and working in telesales. He got seven years.

Creditors can be equally assiduous. In 1999, Owen Bruce Taylor disappeared off the face of Auckland, New Zealand, leaving a wife, children, suicide note, and NZ$3m in debts. Unbeknown to them all, he went to Queenstown, 950 miles away, called himself John Bowland, got a job at a timber yard, dated the boss's niece, and, in time, became a director of the firm. But four years later, an employee of the detective agency hired by Taylor's old creditors saw him in a store, and police pulled him in.

A phone call saying you're dead is unlikely to be enough

It is remarkable how many people in trouble think that merely phoning, faxing or emailing the authorities and reporting their own death will be enough to call off the wolves. Newcastle solicitor's secretary Julie Thompson, for instance, faced a fraud compensation claim, and other debts. So she posed as her sister and faxed the court to say that Julie had "regrettably passed away", and her bereaved relatives would be distressed if any arrest warrant was issued. The court demanded a death certificate, and that she couldn't fax.

Do it with conviction

Faking your own death is not an enterprise to be lightly undertaken – nor done just to see the extent of the ensuing bereavement. In 1998, Mike Cilgram, described as a poultry processor, wanted to see how much he meant to his estranged wife, Julie. So he left his clothes on the beach at Gorleston, Norfolk, placed an anonymous call to police to say he'd just seen a naked man walk into the sea. Not surprisingly, he was soon rumbled, and his "widow" was none too impressed. She greeted the resurrected poultry man with a request for divorce. "There's no guarantee he won't do something like this again," she said.

In 2007, Bosnian Amir Vehabovic went further. He staged his death, bribed a firm of undertakers to bury an empty coffin, and hid in the cemetery's bushes to count how many of the 45 invitees showed up. Sadly, only his old mum came, leaving Amir to give the other 44 a piece of his mind. "It just goes to show," said his letter to them, "who you can really count on." The moral: when it comes to your "death", have a long-term motive.

The new you

Let preparation be your watchword

Steve O'Keefe, co-author of How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found, showed how easy it is to build a new identity. He started making mail-order purchases in his dog's name, and always paid cash, so the hound built up a debt-free history. Mr O'Keefe said: "The records now indicate he has one of the best personal credit ratings in all of Washington state, and that at least once a month he gets a pre-approved application for a Visa or MasterCard."

Create a new you, not the old one with a new name

Many death-fakers are caught because their old character can't help bubbling to the surface. Take the case of the ever-thrusting David Friedland. He was a New Jersey state senator given a jail sentence in 1980 for his part in a $20m fraud, but kept out of prison in exchange for co-operating with investigators. Five years later, and freshly indicted for graft, he staged his death in a scuba diving "accident" in the Bahamas. He went to the Maldives, where he became a prominent businessman, running a chain of scuba-diving shops. But he ruffled local feathers; officials looked into his background, alerted US police, and he was duly arrested. As one of those who tracked him down said: "If he were capable of becoming a low-profile kind of guy, we'd still be looking for him."

Be smart in choosing your new identity

Do not, for instance, try to pass your new self off as your own long-lost relative. Remember the audacious Audrey Hilley. In 1979, this apparently blameless Alabama widow was charged with poisoning her daughter, then 18. The girl survived, arsenic was found, and investigators decided to exhume the body of the late Mr Hilley, who had died suddenly, in the prime of life, four years before. Sure enough, arsenic was found in his body. Mrs Hilley (who had claimed his $30,000 life insurance payout) was charged, and, mysteriously, allowed out on bail. She absconded, married a Texan, and moved with him to New Hampshire. One day she said she was off to visit her sister in Texas. Once there, she faked her own death, even placing an obituary in the local newspaper. Then she went to Florida, where – 20lb lighter, with a new set of teeth, and blond hair – she met her abandoned husband, told him she was his wife's hitherto unmentioned twin sister Terri, and moved into his home. Astonishingly, he was completely fooled – but one old acquaintance wasn't. She went to police, and the long life on the run of Audrey Hilley ended.

Getting away with it

Resist the temptation to have a Facebook page

The internet is a dangerous place when forging a new identity, especially if your appearance hasn't changed. Facing fraud charges, Australian company director Robert Martin faked his death in 1996 and fled to Melbourne. He managed to live there undetected for seven years, until he was unable to resist putting his photo on a personals site. He was recognised and arrested.

Be lucky: Even if you have a flawless plan and carry it out to perfection, you still need luck. Colin Whelan, a Dublin computer analyst who strangled his wife, and then, while out on bail, staged his death by the familiar ruse of a car abandoned by the sea, was spotted four years later by an Irish tourist in a Mallorca bar. And Harry Gordon, another death-faker, had the misfortune while leading what he thought was a new life, to run into his brother in New Zealand.

Do not pose for publicity pictures with Panamanian estate agents

Self-evident, but this has been ignored.

Black widow

Audrey Hilley poisoned her husband, tried to do the same to her daughter, faked her death, remarried, left her husband, then turned up again as her own twin sister.

Brotherly love

Australian Harry Gordon faked his death in 2000 and moved to Spain, England, South Africa and then New Zealand – where he had the misfortune to run into his brother.

Original here

10 Things You Don’t Know About Women: Kim Cattrall

The Sex and the City actress wants you to know it’s about an inch from where you think it is. And nine other things you don’t know about women.

By Kim Cattrall

Kim Cattrall

Alan Davidson/

1. Women are interested in A-list things: A designers, A vacations, A orgasms.

2. Wait, let me rephrase that so there’s no confusion: multiple orgasms.

3. We want you to be true to yourselves. And to us. And not necessarily in that order.

4. No man should ever purchase anything called Follicare. If you’re going bald, then go bald and try to be proud.

5. The secret to getting out of trouble with your girlfriend is being funny. A funny man can be forgiven for anything. (Exceptions: cheating and comb-overs.)

6. We don’t find cigarettes sexy unless they’re in black-and-white movies or dangling from the lips of twenty-year-old Italian men.

7. The vagina is a birth canal. The vulva is a gold mine.

8. The only man who can pull off twelve different kinds of breakfast cereal is Jerry Seinfeld.

9. It might seem strange, but every now and then, check out your backside in the mirror. If you don’t like what you see, chances are we feel the same.

10. The women of the world want you to know that the clitoris is about an inch from where you think it is.

Kim Cattrall stars as Samantha Jones in Sex and the City, in theaters May 30.

Original here

Evil knitting? Stitch your own dictator

Asylum isn't usually a place for arts 'n' crafts news, but we think this might qualify as weird enough for us: a new book from knitting celebrity Rachael Matthews contains instructions for creating small, woollen version of history's most appalling dictators.

According to The Sun, the book will feature detailed descripions on how to knit a miniature Hitler (supposedly known as "Knitler"), Cambodian nutcase Pol Pot and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

(We should point out that every news story about this book we can find lacks some very basic details, including publishers, release dates and sources. Count us sceptical. But, if true, we didn't realise our nan's favourite hobby could cause such outrage.)

Incidentally, lnitting is popular among young, bohemian people in East London. Consequently, knitting groups can be a great place to meet weird arty girls. But our advice, if you're looking to impress with your needles, is to leave the controversial designs behind. Zombie knitting, featured after the jump, is much more our style...

Zombie knitting -- Dawn of the Knitted Dead.

Original here

Giant lobster that sparked bidding war saved from pot

Dee-Dee the giant lobster awaits her fate in a tank.

Dee-Dee the giant lobster awaits her fate in a tank.

Dee-Dee the giant lobster will be avoiding a boiling pot of water and will be sent to a New Brunswick aquarium.

For about a week, Dee-Dee, a 100-year-old 10-kilogram lobster stayed at a Shediac, N.B. fish shop and was the centre of a cross-country bidding war between those who wanted to eat him and those who wanted to set him free.

The store owner, Denis Breau, said he accepted a $1,000 bid from Vancouver resident Laura-Leah Shaw to save the lobster, despite receiving a $5,000 bid from an Ontario group that wanted Dee-Dee for a banquet.

"Some of my regular customers were starting to tell me I should release him in the water," Breau told CTV Atlantic of the reason for his decision.

Dee-Dee will go to a conservation group's aquarium, because releasing him back to the sea would probably be fatal.

The lobster may get to meet his savior in the near-future.

"I would very much like to go out there and meet Dee-Dee and see that he gets taken from the fish shop into what for a lobster would be a better place," Shaw said.

Conservationists hope that Dee-Dee's case sparks enough interest for the creation of a lobster sanctuary in New Brunswick.

Dee-Dee is to be moved Monday or Tuesday.

With a report from CTV Atlantic's Erin O'Halloran

Original here

7 People Who Cheated Death (Then Kicked It In The Balls)

By Son Tran

We all like to think of ourselves as badasses. But what would you really do if faced with death? How would you react to being dropped out of a plane without a parachute, or buried alive? After crapping your pants, that is.

Well these people survived all of that and more, slapping Death in the face and telling it to go make them a sandwich.

Vesna Vulovic 1, Mountain 0

Who was she?
Vesna Vulovic was a stewardess back in the '70s working on a Serbian airline.

How She Stared Down Death:
Except for surviving countless ass gropings during her time as a stewardess there was really nothing special about this lady. Oh yeah, except for the fact that she fell 33,000 fucking feet and lived to tell the tale.

On January 26, 1972 our gal was working an extra shift due to a clerical error. She took the shift anyway to earn a little extra scratch, probably to supplement her bear-wrestling hobby or something. Anyway, some terrorists decided to blow up her plane and succeeded in doing so at the worst possible time, when the plane was really high up in the air.

Like this, only six miles in the air

Not only did she survive the explosion that blew the plane into pieces, but she was the only person to live after hitting the side of the mountain. Normally this would totally suck by itself, but it was winter so the mountain was also frozen which probably made it feel like she hit it after falling 33,000 and 10 feet.

Now because we're talking about reality and not a cartoon, she did in fact break a bunch of bones and fell into a coma, but when she woke up she looked around and asked for a cigarette. Apparently flipping Death the bird really gives you cravings.

Not convinced? Did we tell you she was left paralyzed ... but then regained her ability to walk through sheer force of will and balls-out effort? She also didn't suffer any of those New Age, sissy boy "psychological effects" either and continued to fly like nothing happened. As a bonus she collected a Guinness World Record for her troubles.

Want to see if you're as tough? No problem all you have to do is jump off the equivalent of 26 Empire State Buildings.

In case you're wondering, a fall like that takes about three minutes, which should be plenty of time to contemplate death (and every single bad decision you've made in your life) and after that, don't forget to live, break your back, fall into a coma, become paralyzed and then recover, which we figure is the hard part.

Aron Ralston Hacks Off His Own Fucking Arm

Who was he?
A mechanical engineer at Intel. You know those engineers are renowned for being tough guys.

How He Stared Down Death:
No biggie, all he did was take a hike in the woods and came out five days later, missing an arm, which he had to cut off himself.

Seems Aron was big on mountain climbing, which by itself is pretty manly, but not enough to get him on this list. Except during this particular hike a boulder fell on him, pinning his arm. For five days he worked to push the rock off and finally realized he would die unless he took drastic action.

Because the prospect of cutting off your arm may not impress some of you hardcore readers, we need to point out that he first had to break his arm by snapping it against the same rock pinning him down. Then came the hard part, cutting through the flesh.

Lucky for Aron he had a multi-use tool. Unluckily for Aron it was a piece of crap knock-off that he probably got from an aunt at Christmas. Plus saying that he was lucky to have the tool to cut through his arm is kind of like saying you're lucky to have Chapstick on your lips while your head is on fire.

Death wasn't about to give up easily though, and after cutting through the flesh, Aron had to use the pliers to cut through the tendons that the knife couldn't cut. If you feel like the details presented thus far aren't quite gruesome enough, here's a nice interview where Ralston describes how the flesh on his arm already started to rot into mush by the time he got free:

Finally he freed himself, gave Death one last manly smile and found some help. He ended up losing the arm but had it replaced by a bitching climbing ax, accomplishing in one step what we hope evolution does for the rest of us over the next few million years.

Jim Thompson POW and Legendary Badass

Who was he?
Jim was just a store clerk, until he decided he could probably impress more girls by telling them he was a Green Beret, which he became.

How He Stared Down Death:
During the Vietnam War, Jim was captured and held as a prisoner of war, at which time he was beaten and tortured. The time we're speaking of by the way was a period of nine years, giving him a pretty bittersweet record for being held as a POW.

His plane was shot down in 1964, with Jim taking a bullet and breaking his back in the process. Surviving that part would have been enough of a harrowing story for most people to tell for the rest of their lives. But it was a long way from over for Jim.

After being captured, Jim was held in a jungle camp and jammed into a wooden cage too small for him to sit up or fully stretch out. For months his captors wanted him to sign papers saying that he was treated well. Jim told them to fuck off and in return was beaten and tortured some more. At some point, probably because his voice was sore from telling them to fuck themselves, he finally signed.

Actual photo (of Christopher Walken)

As a reward, he was moved into solitary confinement for four years. He was finally moved into a prison with other prisoners which was great, except that the beatings and torture continued, which pretty much blew. At one point during his captivity, he became so weak that he suffered a heart seizure. Realizing he needed his heart to live, Jim survived that scare and even managed to escape five times.

The time took its toll on Jim though and it looked like Death would win this one. Another prisoner who saw Jim reported that he thought the enemy had placed a corpse in the cell next door. However, Death forgot the fact the Jim was a Green Beret and he held on until he was finally released in 1973. He weighed 90 pounds.

Thompson unfortunately succumbed to death shortly after his release. And by "shortly" we mean 30 years later, of natural causes, in Florida.

Poon Lim, Cast Away

Who was he?
He was steward on a British ship during World War II, with an unfortunate first name, at least by Western standards.

How He Stared Down Death:
The ship he was working on was blown up by the Germans. Being total assholes, the Germans did this while the ship was far away from land. Surviving the explosion was no biggie for Poon, but it forced him to climb into a life raft and hang out until he was rescued ... 133 fucking days later.

At first there was water in the raft and a few boxes of biscuits. But these ran out quickly and Poon had to get all MacGyver and make himself some fish hooks out of nails and tin cans to catch fish to survive.

Between doing awesome stuff like catching sharks and drinking the blood of birds he caught, he also had to deal with sunburn, seasickness and storms that wrecked his food and water supplies. Eventually he figured he needed to catch more food. For us that would mean more fish. For Poon it meant catching a fucking shark. For Death it meant Poon was not going down easy.

Toothy death or lunch? Depends on who you are.

He could have been rescued sooner but another German U-boat that spotted him offered no help. It was at this point that Poon began to suspect that the Nazis were dicks.

He finally sailed near Brazil and was rescued by some fishermen, and these days the US Navy teaches his survival techniques to its sailors.

Next time you feel like complaining about how small your apartment is, just imagine living for four months on one of these:

The Meng Brothers Eat Coal For Breakfast

Who were they?
A coal miner working in China, which is basically like poking Death in the face on a regular basis for a living.

How They Stared Down Death:
Meng Xianchen and Meng Xianyou were working hard in a coal mine when the tunnel they were working in collapsed, burying them alive. Generally coal mines anywhere are not safe places to work, but the Mengs were working in an illegal mine, which meant that the safety budget was probably spent on booze and bribes instead of things like oxygen or emergency training.

After the mines collapsed, a rescue team was sent in to try and dig Meng and his brother out, but then quickly gave up. Their fellow miners then gave it a try, and were promptly arrested for illegal mining, presumably on the basis they could accidentally dig up some coal along with the two human beings trapped under it.

So, trapped underground with no food or water and a system too retarded to save them, everyone gave up hope. The Mengs' relatives even conducted burial rites at the mine.

The brothers, however, were still alive. Realizing the rescue effort wasn't coming, the brothers started digging themselves out. Armed with only one pickaxe and their bare hands, they tunneled their way through 66 feet of coal.

In between making jokes about each other's wives and drinking their own urine, they also tried chomping on some coal to take the edge off their hunger. According to Meng, coal tastes great when you're starving to death. Otherwise it tastes like ass.

Once they pulled themselves to the surface, Meng Xianchen and Meng Xianyou gave Death the double bird salute and gave the officials who called off the rescue a hard stare. Then they went to the hospital, where Meng Xianchen said he crapped coal for a few days.

Thanks for nothing, fuckers.

Brent Case Has Bear-Proof Skin

Who was he?
A surveyor working up in Canada, which is like the US, but with better beer and fewer guns.

How He Stared Down Death:
Brent was minding his own business while working in the forests of British Columbia when Death came to visit in the form of a 900-pound adult grizzly bear.

Brent was carrying an ax at the time, but that probably doesn't help a lot against a bear unless it's the kind of ax that shoots shotgun shells. Brent, knowing better, decided to play dead.

Unfortunately the bear wasn't looking for a fair fight and started munching on Brent's skull. At one point he thought the bear was actually eating his brain. While this may not have been true, from the picture below you can't blame him for thinking this.

The bear took a few more chunks out of Brent, threw him into a bog and jumped on him WWE-style a few times before saying "Screw it" and walking off leaving Brent for dead.

It should be noted that playing dead still probably saved his life, as bears typically won't eat an already-dead victim (we're not sure why, but we think it's considered dishonorable according to the code all bears live by). Regardless, with his scalp hanging in huge flaps from his skull and bleeding heavily, Brent managed to get up and go for help. He got back to his car and drove 15 miles, covered in blood and bear bites. Death could only stand on the side of the road and shake its fist.

Alexis Goggins, Invincible Girl

Who was she?
Just an ordinary first grader, attending classes, hanging with her friends.

How She Stared Down Death:
She had to save her mom from some crazy dude. She did this by jumping in front of him and taking six bullets, point blank, including a couple to the head.

It started when some lowlife kidnapped Alexis and her mom (OK, the lowlife was the mom's boyfriend). The mother tried to stall the bad guy and managed to call 911, but the cops said they couldn't send anyone. Apparently they were all busy with more fucked up situations than a man holding a child hostage at gunpoint.

It was at this point that the gunman decided he should stamp his passport into hell and started shooting. Two bullets struck the mother before little Alexis dove between them, begging the shooter to stop. Without hesitation, he shot six times, little Alexis taking the bullets that would have killed her mother. By this time the cops arrived, as they figured things were getting really serious because now someone was actually shooting.

Alexis thought about dying for a second then decided she still had some shit to do. Death could only watch as she grabbed her stuff and headed back to the land of the living, despite some serious injuries that would have killed most of us twice and some of us three times.

This would be jaw-droppingly impressive for a 250-pound Marine combat vet, let alone a seven-year-old girl. And while we would like to cling to our original theory that she's actually an immortal Highlander, the truth is this seven-year-old girl is simply more man than we'll ever be.

Original here