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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fifty-two cows are killed after lightning hits a wire fence

By Urmee Khan

Some of the 52 cows killed by a lightning strike in Uruguay
Some of the 52 cows killed by a lightning strike in Uruguay Photo: Reuters

The Hereford and Normandy breed cows were discovered by the ranch manager in the field.

A veterinary expert who examined the carcases said they had been killed by lightning hitting the wire fence bordering the field where the animals were stood. The incident occurred in Valdez Chico, near Montevideo, Uruguay.

In September, 53 cattle were killed by lightning in Katosi, Uganda. They had been seeking shelter underneath trees, according to local reports.

Lightning hits the earth an average 100 times per second, or 8.6 million times a day.

Each spark of lightning can reach over five miles in length, soar to temperatures of approximately 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and contain 100 million electrical volts.

Weather officials estimate the United States alone receives up to 20 million lightning strikes per year from as many as 100,000 thunderstorms.

The odds of being struck by lightning are approximately 1 in 576,000 and the chance of actually being killed by lightning is about 1 in 2,320,000.

However, experts say working or playing in open fields; boating, fishing, and swimming; working on heavy farm or road equipment; playing golf; taking a shower; talking on a conventional telephone; and repairing or using electrical appliances are all activities that should be avoided during storms.

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Monkeys: The (Other) Other White Meat

By Taylor Hengen


Bonobos, along with chimpanzees and orangutans, are humans’ closest genetic relatives, and are frequently studied for clues about the nature of human evolution. These Great Apes are, as it turns out, a lot like us, but a recent study reveals something about bonobos that we’d perhaps rather not know. Often referred to as the “hippie” apes (partially because bonobos have a lot of casual sex . . a perfectly acceptable “Hey, how’s it going?” in bonobo-speak), bonobos don’t quite live up to the moniker, it appears. German researchers announced on Monday that, far from being peaceniks, bonobos also collectively hunt, and eat, monkeys. It’s not just the male bonobos, either; in fact, females serve as the leaders in bonobo society, and are equally involved in the hunts.

Mind, these hunts aren’t very frequent. In a study spanning five years, scientists recorded only ten, fewer than half of which were actually successful. And, true to their reputations, the bonobos shared the fruits--sorry, meats--of their labor. This study has produced the first evidence of bonobos eating mammals of substantial size, as well as the first evidence of bonobos intentionally pursuing their prey.

While hunting and eating monkeys may seem to some as conducted in poor taste, bonobos are not actually monkeys themselves. Perhaps, if the “hippie” apes could talk, they’d urge us humans, as fellow hominids, to expand our limited ideas about what (or who?) it’s “okay” to hunt and devour. But then, it's probably in their best interest that they stay quiet on that score.

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The Sexiest Jobs: Ten Titillating Career Choices


By: Caroline Wilbert (View Profile)

Want to get asked out more often? Consider nursing school. Nursing is one of the ten sexiest professions, according to a recent survey.

The seemingly universal male fantasy about the nurse in the short white dress notwithstanding, I can see why nursing, which comes in at number six, made the list. There is something sexy about a person who takes care of you, and nice people (the case for most nurses, in my experience) are sexy.

If you want a sexier job, but can’t handle bedpan duty, there are other options. While they might not be the easiest careers to break into (and some are nearly impossible if you didn’t luck out in the good genes department), they’ll guarantee a role in quite a few people’s fantasies.

1. Entertainer/Model
People in these fields are constantly in the public eye, which requires a great deal of aesthetic upkeep. Their nearly-perfect visages and glamorous lifestyles evoke envy and ignite the fantasies of women and men of all ages. Plus, there’s a certain level of sexiness—think George Clooney or Gisele B√ľndchen—required of the few who can make a living as entertainers. They don’t call it “movie star looks” or “a model’s body” for nothing.

2. Cocktail Waitress
I take exception with this one. As somebody who’s done it, I don’t find schlepping liquor and beer particularly sexy. My amateur analysis: annoying men voted for this because waitresses are the only women in bars who are nice to them. (Guys: Some inside scoop—the waitresses don’t really think you are charming when heavily intoxicated. They work for tips.)

3. Athlete
Well, yeah, a championship athlete—with the body and spirit to match—is pretty sexy. (There are of course exceptions. Let’s hope that Michael Vick, dog-fighting entrepreneur, isn’t on anyone’s “sexy” list.) There’s something so alluring about the level of stamina required of athletes, not to mention the passion and dedication most of them have for their sports. Striving to better oneself and achieve goals—and building sculpted, strong muscles while doing so—is definitely sexy.

4. Firefighter
When asked what makes firefighters so universally appealing, Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City responds, “Well, first of all, there’s a weight limit.” That may be true, but we can’t forget the hero aspect that makes firefighters a common fantasy figure. Firefighters put their lives on the line to help absolute strangers, and sometimes even pets—how many of us could say the same? Their bravery in the face of danger and strength—both emotional and physical—is undeniably attractive.

5. Cowboy
This pick doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch. It’s that image of a mysterious loner riding off into the sunset. Or maybe those surveyed have a thing for cowboy hats and guys on horses guiding cattle. (I know I did after watching Brokeback Mountain.) My only issue: can’t women be cowpeople too? Let’s amend number five to “cowboys and cowgirls.”

6. Nurse
As I said before, I totally get what’s sexy about a nurse. I think I fell in love with all my nurses, male and female, after my children were born. They really seemed to care how I was feeling—and they gave me pain medication!

7. Artist
The fantasy of becoming an artist’s muse is definitely a popular one. Artists are unique, creative, and fiercely passionate about their work. Plus, they tend to be brooding and solitary, making them a bit of an enigma (and challenge)—that’s sexy; no doubt about it. There’s also the added perk of having things created for you if you win an artist’s heart. Sure, dating an auditor might get you some help filing taxes, but somehow it’s not quite the same…

8. Military Professional
This is another one that’s hard to argue. No matter what you think about the war, you have to respect the men and women who are risking their lives for our country. It brings to mind the hero image similar to that of firefighters, cops, and others who dedicate themselves to helping others. The transformed bodies that emerge from vigorous boot camp training don’t hurt the sexy cause, either.

9. Construction Worker
Indeed, there’s something manly about a burly guy with a hammer, especially one who can fix and build things around the house. (Everyone loves taking work home, right?) Humans are attracted to the scent of pheromones that are released while sweating, and construction workers get pretty sweaty lifting and lugging heavy equipment and building materials (as if being good with their hands wasn’t enough of a draw). Granted, the plastic hats detract from the hot factor a bit, but hey, safety can be sexy, too.

10. TV Anchor/Personality
Okay, not all of the blow-dried talking heads on TV are sexy. (Larry King, though a great TV personality, is not exactly the face of sexy.) However, I do like Daryn Kagan, a former CNN anchor. After she lost her on-air gig, she started a company spreading good news via the Internet. CNN’s Anderson Cooper is often referred to as a silver fox—and those piercing blue eyes! And I know many, many women who refer to The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart as one of the sexiest men alive. TV anchors are usually good-looking and well-informed—and nothing is sexier than smarts.

Notice that these jobs have something in common (no, not potentially sexy Halloween costumes)—enthusiasm. To enter into these high-stress, demanding careers, people must really enjoy what they’re doing, whether it’s helping others, making the world a prettier place, or just supplying a drink and lending an ear to an appreciative barfly. Having passion and excitement for what you do—even if it’s not so thrilling or enviable—is definitely sexy.

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Online divorcee jailed after killing virtual hubby

By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press Writer

TOKYO – A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband's digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, police said Thursday.

The woman, who is jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his identification and password to log onto popular interactive game "Maple Story" to carry out the virtual murder in mid-May, a police official in northern Sapporo said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

"I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry," the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations.

The woman had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said.

She has not yet been formally charged, but if convicted could face a prison term of up to five years or a fine up to $5,000.

Players in "Maple Story" raise and manipulate digital images called "avatars" that represent themselves, while engaging in relationships, social activities and fighting against monsters and other obstacles.

The woman used login information she got from the 33-year-old office worker when their characters were happily married, and killed the character. The man complained to police when he discovered that his beloved online avatar was dead.

The woman was arrested Wednesday and was taken across the country, traveling 620 miles from her home in southern Miyazaki to be detained in Sappporo, where the man lives, the official said.

The police official said he did not know if she was married in the real world.

In recent years, virtual lives have had consequences in the real world. In August, a woman was charged in Delaware with plotting the real-life abduction of a boyfriend she met through "Second Life," another virtual interactive world.

In Tokyo, police arrested a 16-year-old boy on charges of swindling virtual currency worth $360,000 in an interactive role playing game by manipulating another player's portfolio using a stolen ID and password.

Virtual games are popular in Japan, and "Second Life" has drawn a fair number of Japanese participants. They rank third by nationality among users, after Americans and Brazilians.

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7 Bizarre Things (And 1 Bodily Fluid) People Use as Money

By Ian Fortey

We've probably all had the experience of being stuck in line at the pharmacy with a box of prophylactics, some tampons and some apple sauce, and found out far too late that we don't have the cash to cover it.

Don't you wish there was something else you could trade instead of that "money" stuff you never seem to have? Well many parts of the world are way ahead of you, ditching money in favor of...

Everyone has a damn cell phone these days. You can't urinate on the front doors of a library any more without at least three passers-by phoning the cops and having you picked up. For that reason, maybe it's not entirely surprising that in some rural parts of Africa, cell phone scratch cards have actually become a form of currency.

Despite having a GDP on par with your average 7-Eleven, the Congo has several million cell phones and subscriptions have increased 150% in the last year, which means everyone in Buttfuck Nowhere, Africa really wants to talk to someone else all the time. Now that they can, they've taken to buying airtime vouchers or "scratch cards" and texting the codes to others who can then use the codes to redeem the cash value right away in a sort of rudimentary money transfer system that happens instantly and costs the price of a text message.

The practice is so widespread that these scratch cards are now acceptable currency for bribing officials. As an added bonus, you can pay the bribes remotely with this method, so there's no need for the cops to even take you downtown to bribe the judge when you can pay them all off at the same time. Ah, technology. Simultaneously bribing multiple government officials to quietly overlook your backyard sex parties has never been easier.

Guerima, Colombia may be the most intense little village you've never heard of. While it's unlikely they're all skydivers drinking Mountain Dew and listening to one of those screaming, loud bands the kids these days love so much, the residents do have enough blow to keep themselves wired and tweaking 24/7.


The President of Guerima.

It seems Colombia, in an effort to do something to curb its drug trade, has tried to stop Marxist rebels from trafficking in cocaine. One of the ways they did this was to deploy the army to remote areas and block access to places where cocaine is grown and processed, places like Guerima.

So imagine a little town in Idaho growing potatoes until one day the army comes and stops anyone from coming in and buying those potatoes to make delicious, addictive, potentially lethal french fries. Now the little town has a shitload of potatoes and no money. So how do you get by? The people of Geurima, (population of 1,000), just replaced cash with powder. Without FARC rebels paying for cocaine, the people of the town use it to conduct transactions amongst themselves and, according to reports, one gram will get you a bottle of Coca-Cola.

If this society can actually pull off their homemade economic system, well, kudos. But we're betting heavily that the "Trapping 1,000 People in a Tiny Village with Nothing to Do But Pass Cocaine Around" Plan is eventually going to backfire in a pretty huge way.

#6.

Prisons can be pretty wacky places. Morgan Freeman might hang around and share his wisdom with you. Adam Sandler might ask you to join his football team. You may even get to play softball with George Bluth. Oh, and the sodomy. The violent, nightly, sodomy. (What'd we tell you? Wacky, right?)

Because of all that wackiness, drug screening is becoming more prominent in our nation's penitentiaries, in an effort to ensure all those non-consensual amorous shower rendezvous are at least done while clean and sober. The easiest way to screen for drugs is with a urine sample and, unfortunately, prison is not populated by an entirely honest group of folks.

As a result, clean urine has become a valuable commodity in prisons. Clean samples can be traded in condoms which are then stored in a really warm place to ensure they stay at body temperature. What warm place can you hide a condom full of pee that will keep it at body temperature? If you guessed in your anus, you're disgusting, but also correct.

#5.

If you're unfamiliar with the island of Yap, it's because it barely exists. If you took Disney World and put it out in the middle of the ocean, that would pretty much encompass the same land mass as Yap. Call it Micronesia and suddenly it's its own country, complete with a population of about 6,000 people.

The people of Yap had a curious tradition of using big ass stones as currency. How big ass? Big ass like 15 feet in diameter and weighing about 2 tons. In fact, the bigger the stone and the more difficult it was to move, the more it was worth, because as we all know, cumbersome shit is really worthwhile, just ask anyone who still has one of those giant half wooden TVs from the 70s or an 8-track player.

They would even sail canoes to other islands to bring back the giant stones with which they could purchase coconuts or wine coolers or whatever it is the people of a tiny island nation need to buy with 12 foot rocks.

The official currency of Yap became the US dollar a little while back, but the stones, nearly 7,000 of which are still all over the island, are used for traditional exchanges, as in marriages or land transfers and, presumably, to bowl downhill over your poorer enemies, who are forced to flee in terror and scatter paltry pebbles in their wake.

You may not be entirely familiar with the African republic of Cameroon, but all you really need to know is that it's apparently populated with scores of enterprising drunkards. Breweries in Cameroon, like the Coca-Cola company here in North America, thought putting prizes under the bottle caps would be a pretty sweet way to gain a sales advantage over the competition. The competition agreed and then pretty much every beer company had prizes under the caps.

Unlike Coca-Cola, where you've got a small fraction of a chance to win anything, the beer companies have a prize under almost every cap. The smallest prize is a beer and larger prizes include cell phones and luxury cars, because if you're piss drunk on mountains of free beer, you'll need to call someone to tow your wrecked luxury car.

Since a beer is worth about a buck and apparently everyone and their uncle is an alcoholic, locals have started using the caps instead of money to pay for things like cab rides. The cab drivers, possibly due to being drunk, end up having run-ins with the local cops, who they in turn pay off with bottle caps.

It's a fun cycle of alcoholic enabling that can't possibly be profitable for the breweries, but we're guessing their executives are also much too drunk to care.

If you've never been to Canada, or never needed to shop for slightly overpriced retail items at a store that's basically Wal-Mart with a worse selection, you may not be familiar with Canadian Tire.

Nonetheless, Canadian Tire has been offering Canadian Tire Money for about 50 years. It looks vaguely like real money and serves as a customer loyalty program. You make a purchase and a certain percentage of the money you spent is given back to you in the form of Canadian Tire money, which are coupons redeemable for any item at the store. Generally you spend a few bucks and are given a few cents. It's quite unremarkable.

What's remarkable is that businesses across Canada such as liquor stores and small bars have adopted Canadian Tire money as a real substitute for cash and will accept it on a number of transactions. As Canadian Tire also operates their own chain of gas stations, numerous smaller businesses are willing to accept the money which they can then use to shop for items or gas at Canadian Tire. eBay Canada accepts Canadian Tire money as an official form of payment and back in the 90s, a German criminal committed to buying a lot of car parts and camping supplies was caught with $11,000,000 in counterfeit Canadian Tire money.

Canada's stupid.

#2.

Because condoms full of piss can't buy everything, like love, or something that doesn't smell like piss, prison economics give us another winner with Mackerel. Ever since smoking started to be banned in prisons a few years back, prisoners needed something else to serve as the local currency. Straight out of left field came mackerel. We wish that "mackerel" was some new, hip prison slang, but it's not. We're totally talking about fish.

The mackerel is stuffed into plastic and foil packages and distributed to the prisoners, because (as if prison wasn't bad enough) everyone should have to carry around little change purses full of rotting, disgusting fish all day. Two packs of mackerel will apparently get you a haircut and, if the Wall Street Journal is to believed, prisoners actually call it "the mack" which we're not about to make fun of because we don't want a nation of fish-wielding felons angry with us. The reason mackerel is so popular as a stand-in for money is that a pouch costs a dollar and no one actually wants to eat it. This in turn may make you wonder why anyone wants the packs at all, but you have to remember it's prison and they need something other than toilet wine and hate crimes to keep them busy. And, again, the nightly, violent sodomy.

As you may or may not be aware, no one lives in space. Nonetheless, the National Space Centre and the University of Leicester in England designed the "Quid," the Quasi Universal Intergalactic Denomination, as a means of currency for interplanetary travelers. Again, we would be remiss if we failed to point out that there are currently no interplanetary travelers.

According to actual scientists with real credentials who invented the currency, it's made from polymers and has no sharp edges, unlike our modern coins which are responsible for no less than 500 decapitations per year in Idaho alone. Because it's predicted we could be taking regular trips into space to visit Disney MoonWorld as early as 2050, it's a good thing they got on inventing a suitable currency now so it will have plenty of time to devalue before it's needed and future moon strippers will be able to improvise a way to hold smooth plastic nuggets in their G-strings.



More of Ian's writing can be found at Scenic Anemia.

For more frightening facts about money, check out The 6 Most Horrifying Ways Anyone Ever Got Rich. Or find out about some celebrities who wish they could use their bodily fluids to pay for groceries in 6 Famous People Who Pissed Away a Fortune.

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