South Korea’s Toilet Theme Park

 

 

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The Restroom Cultural Park,  in the city of Suwon, South Korea, is a massive complex dedicated to the humble toilet. The main exhibition hall itself is shaped like a large toilet bowl and the pathway leading up to it is adorned with bronze figures of humans in mid-squat. The facility was opened to public earlier this year and is the only one of its kind in the world. Other indoor exhibits include WC signs from around the world and toilet-themed art. What’s even more interesting than the toilet theme park is the story of its origin.

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Apparently, the place was initially home to the former Mayor of Suwon, Sim Jae-duck. He died in 2009, but that has not stopped the South Koreans from still regarding him as their very own ‘Mr. Toilet’. This was partly due to the fact that he ran a successful campaign in the 1980s to dramatically improve South Korea’s old toilet system, and also because Mr. Sim was born in his grandmother’s loo. So inspired was he by his place of birth that he built his own house in the shape of a toilet. He, in turn, is said to be the main inspiration behind the theme park.

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The toilet park may be a source of humor for many, but it is supposed to carry a serious message as well. Several of the exhibits are meant to raise awareness about the conditions of public toilets in the developing world. According to Lee Youn-Sook, one of the employees at the Restroom Cultural Park, “we just focus on eating every day. We sometimes overlook the importance of a toilet. But we already know, upon waking up in the morning where we should go to – the toilet. But people don’t want to talk about this. So, we just dedicated to the public a toilet culture – a toilet is not only a toilet for us but can be a cultural space, important for health, sanitation and water conservation. So we call this the toilet culture.” Mr. Sim himself believed that the toilet is a place for serious contemplation. He founded the World Toilet Association in 2007, and is said to have told delegates, “The toilet is not merely a place for excretion. It can save humankind from diseases. A place of relaxation and purging, the toilet is a place for introspection. The toilet is also a central living place that possesses culture.”

 

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Camouflage Company Makes Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak a Reality

Created by Canadian camouflage design company Hyperstealth, Quantum Stealth is a is a material that renders its wearer completely invisible by bending light waves around it, which is in effect very similar to the invisibility cloak worn child wizard extraordinaire, Harry Potter.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could put on your very own invisibility cloak and just roam around undetected? Sadly, that’s not going to be possible for most of us, but if you’re a US soldier, this fantasy could become a reality sooner than you think. Apparently, the US Military is currently backing development of special materials to make American soldiers completely invisible on the battlefield, and according to one camouflage design company, it might soon get its wish. Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp. CEO, Guy Cramer, says their new “Quantum Stealth” material has finally made the sci-fi/fantasy technology a reality. Unfortunately at this time, we can only take his word for it, as its development is so secret that the company cannot even show footage of how it works, on its website, offering only mock-ups of its effects.

Still, Cramer remains unfazed by the wave of skepticism, saying that “the people that need to know that it works have seen it”. And no, he doesn’t mean the students of a real-life wizard school, but command groups from within the US and Canadian Military. “‘These groups now know that it works and does so without cameras, batteries, lights or mirrors…It is lightweight and quite inexpensive.” the Hyperstealth CEO said. ” Both the U.S. and Canadian military have confirmed that it also works against military IR scopes and Thermal Optics.” Instead of going into details about how Quantum Stealth manipulates light waves to conceal even the target’s shadow, Mr. Cramer talked about how he sees the technology being used. In his opinion, it would be invaluable for pilots stranded behind enemy lines in order to avoid capture, but also for special units carrying out raids in broad daylight. Also the next generation of aircrafts could be invisible not only to radars but also to the naked eye, while tanks and submarines could only be detected by the sound of their engines and guns.

In a recent interview with CNN, Guy Cramer said he only disclosed information about Hyperstealth’s breakthrough to attract the attention of the US Military. After it got enough exposure in the press, the Military asked to see Quantum Stealth in action, to verify if it really works. So there you have it folks, the next time you see an invisibility cloak in real life, it’s most likely it won’t be concealing a spectacled wizard, but a machine gun-wielding soldier…

World’s strangest New Year traditions

While most of us take photographs for keepsakes, the people in Ecuador set fire to them on the eve of New Year.

This represents burning away the past – that could be regretful or unpleasant – and starting the new year on a clean slate.

But some believe this is just their excuse for Ecuadorian pyromaniacs to set things on fire. r with a new slate.

But some believe this is just their excuse for Ecuadorian pyromaniacs to set things on fire.

How are the rest of the world bidding farewell to 2012 and ushering in 2013?

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Scarecrow burning – Ecuador

To banish any ill fortune or bad things that happened in the past year, Ecuadorians set fire to scarecrows filled with paper at midnight on New Year’s Eve.They also burn photographs of things that represent the past year, which leads us to believe that New Year is just a thinly veiled excuse for Ecuadorian pyromaniacs to set things on fire.

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Round things – Philippines

In the Philippines New Year is about one thing, and one thing only; cold hard cash.

[Pictured here: A man seen wrapped with pythons, as part of a show celebrating the coming Year of the Snake in the Chinese calendar, as spectators look on in Malabon City, north of Manila on Dec 28, 2012.]

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Hoping to bring prosperity and wealth for the year ahead, Filipino people try to use as many round things as possible to represent coins and wealth. Round clothes, round food, you name it; if it’s round, they want in.

Broken plates – Denmark

If you’re ever in Denmark and wake up to find a pile of smashed crockery outside your door, you’ve either annoyed the local chapter of the Women’s Institute or it’s New Year’s Eve. Unused plates are saved up all year, until the 31st of December when they are hurled at the front doors of your friends and family in a strangely vandalistic display of affection.

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Eating 12 grapes – Spain

As the clock counts down to 12 and people around the world are preparing to watch fireworks and drunkenly kiss each other, Spaniards are staring at bunches of grapes with a steely gaze.This challenge involves stuffing your face with 12 grapes, one for every ring of the bell. Succeed and you’ve got good luck for the year ahead.

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Takanakuy Festival – Peru

This annual Peruvian festival held at the end of December is all about people beating the living daylights out of each other. Competitors face off in a ring for a round of bare-knuckle brawling, which is overseen by local policemen. Takanakuy literally means ‘when the blood is boiling’, but apparently all of the fights are friendly, and represent a fresh start for the year.

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108 rings – Japan

Think the countdown of 12 rings takes too long? Try 108 on for size. In Japan bells are rang 108 times in a Buddhist tradition that is believed to banish all human sins. It’s also good luck to be smiling or laughing going into the New Year, but who knows how you can be in a good mood after having to sit through that prolonged ringing.

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Coloured underwear – South America

In South American countries such as Mexico, Bolivia (above) and Brazil, your fortunes for the year ahead are all decided by your underpants.

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Those who want to find love wear red underwear for New Year.topImage (11)

If you’re just after a bit of peace for the New Year, some white pants should do the trick nicely.topImage (12)

Whilst gold diggers should opt for yellow, which brings wealth and luck.topImage (13)

Louis Vuitton Family Launches Wine For The Chinese Palate

Louis Vuitton’s founding family has launched XLV, a range of wines specifically tailored to the Chinese palate.

Encompassing wines from the southern Rhône, Bordeaux and Champagne, XLV is named after fifth generation family member Xavier-Louis Vuitton, who owns a wine estate near Apt in the Vaucluse department of France.

Xavier-Louis’ son Quentin-Louis, who has taken on the role of cellar master, was at last week’s HKTDC International Wine & Spirits Fair to introduce the range. Describing wine as “a passion I inherited from my father”, he explained: “I made many trips to Asia to understand the Asian palate.”

As a result, the family has worked with business partner and vineyard manager Gael Vachet to create a range that aims to capture the fruit-driven style and softer tannins that Vuitton found appeals to Chinese consumers, who will form the primary initial target market for the XLV wines.

Tommy Wong, who is managing XLV’s distribution explained the appeal of the Vuittons’ close connection to this project. “The family is involved and that is important. In China trust is important – there are many imitations, but this brand can be trusted.”

Although the XLV team emphasised that its project has no connection with the Louis Vuitton brand, which is now owned by LVMH, the popularity of this luxury fashion house in China is likely to provide a useful connection for the Vuitton family in building a following for its wines.

As for the decision to launch the brand in Hong Kong rather than mainland China, Wong highlighted the administrative region’s role as a hub for the Asian wine trade, saying: “If you want to be in the Chinese market, the first step is to be here in Hong Kong.”

While the Ventoux wine is made from the Vuitton estate’s own grapes, the family works with growers for its other wines. These come from fellow southern Rhône appellation Châteauneuf du Pape, the Bordeaux appellations of Pomerol, Pauillac, St Estephe, Pessac and Margaux, and finally Champagne, where the brand has a Grand Cru blanc de blancs from Verzenay.

Currently sold through Hong Kong-based online retailer yeswine.com, prices range from HK$360 (£29) for the XLV Ventoux 2010 up to HK$2,450 (£199) for the XLV Pauillac 2007.

Emphasising a focus on “the most prestigious wine regions of France” Quentin-Louis hinted at future expansion plans for the brand. “People are asking for a Côte Rôtie”, he observed, but indicated that any such extension would be “two to five years” away.

Pokertox – Using Botox and Facial Fillers for That Perfect Poker Face

A doctor of aesthetic medicine in New York has recently introduced a program of Botox and facial fillers designed to help poker players  hide any sign of facial emotion that might tip off other card players.

Dr. Jack Berdy thinks poker might be the next big client base for Botox, so he’s designed a program called “Pokertox” to help him get an early foothold in the market. It’s a way to combine his job with a passion for gambling, but Dr. Berdy really wants to turn this idea into a profitable business. Pokertox starts off with the good doctor meeting the players and consulting with them about what they think their poker tells are. ”Some people might get a card they like or don’t like and raise their eyebrows,” Berdy told The Huffington Post. “If that’s the common reaction, we can put Botox in certain areas to minimize them.” Berdy says there are a variety of unconscious signals his program can help with, but it can also help poker players bluff better by “putting Botox in areas to make it look like the player has a ‘tell’ they really don’t have.” The Pokertox program has only been available for a week, and so far no one has siged up for it, but Jack Berdy is confident his idea will be a winner in the long run.

The East Side aesthetics doctor, who was once a gambler himself, told the Observer the idea for Pokertox came to him in the last week or so.  “It was just a natural match for the business I’m in and an application that hasn’t been done before,” he said, adding that if he were still properly involved with the game of poker, he would certainly use Botox on himself, to get that coveted frozen forehead. “Very few people can maintain a real poker face,’’ Berdy said. “They have some ‘tells,’ some expression that gives away that they have a good hand or a bad hand,” but by using Pokertox, “what someone sees across the table is no movement.’’

But not everyone is as excited about Pokertox as its inventor. Professional poker player Josh Hale says the idea has come 10 to 15 years to late: ”The game has moved on from bluffs, and is more analytical these days. Players might look at physical tells, but they are relying more on betting patterns and bet sizing.” Also, Pokertox procedures cost between $600 and $800, and have to be repeated every three to four months, which probably makes them a bit too expensive for the average poker player. Cosmetic doctors like San Diego-based Barry Handler have been quck to call Pokertox a gimmick, but Dr. Berdy is confident most of his peers will think it’s a wonderful idea.

Kobe Luminaire, Lights Festival in Japan

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Kobe Luminarie (神戸ルミナリエ) is a light festival held in KobeJapan, every December since 1995 and commemorating the Great Hanshin earthquake of that year. The lights were donated by the Italian Government and the installation itself is produced by Valerio Festi and Hirokazu Imaoka.

Lights are kept up for about two weeks and turned on for a few hours each evening. Each light is individually hand-painted. Major streets in the vicinity are closed to auto traffic during these hours to allow pedestrians to fill the streets and enjoy the lights. It is viewed by about three to five million people each year.