Austria's Upside Down House
By Gaby Leslie | Yahoo! News – 18 hours ago
This quirky house may look like it has been plucked from Disney Pixar film 'Up', but it has become quite the tourist attraction in a quaint Austrian village
From the bathroom to the toilet, every inch of the bizarre residence has been wowing visitors because the whole thing has been constructed upside-down.
The curious property, which has been built in a topsy-turvy manner both inside and out, certainly sticks out in Terfens-Vomperbach, Tyrol, Western Austria.
Polish architects Marek Rozhanski and Irek Glowacki spent eight months building and furnishing the wacky creation.
Even a life-size VW Beetle has been painstakingly installed onto the ceiling.
Video footage, which showcases the house in all its glory, is so much like an illusion that visitors appear as though they are walking while standing on their heads.
The country hopes to boost tourism in the village with the opening of the architectural oddity.
Fortunately for visitors, the toilet has no running water.
"LUNATIC??... How Dare You!!!!"
By Daniel NasawBBC News Magazine, Washington
Two US senators have proposed to excise the word "lunatic" from federal law, calling it outdated and offensive. What are the word's origins and why is it so offensive?
The word "lunatic" has been codified into US law so long it has outlasted its currency in the psychiatric profession.
Many experts say they are surprised a term that in antiquity referred to madness influenced by the lunar cycle survives in such a prominent place in the US Code - its very first section.
The US Code is the official codification of US federal laws. In it, the word "lunatic" appears in a section of basic definitions, and later in a tract dealing with bank mergers.
Last month, Senators Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, and Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, proposed the 21st Century Language Act, a 257-word bill that would strip the word out.
"The continued use of this pejorative term has no place in the US Code," Mr Conrad said on the Senate floor.
"'Lunatic' is an unnecessary term and... its removal will have no impact on the broader federal law."
'Drunkards' and 'idiots'
The bill is the latest in a series of efforts in the US and Britain to strike terms for mental illness and developmental disability that are deemed antiquated and offensive from the law and from public discourse.
In the US, a 2010 act of Congress replaced "mental retardation" with "intellectual disabilities" in several places in the US Code.
Tennessee last year passed a law replacing "handicapped" with "having a disability" and "idiot, lunatic, person of unsound mind" with "person adjudicated incompetent". In 2009, the state of Maine inserted "person with alcoholism" in the place of "common drunkard" and "person who is legally incompetent" for "lunatic".
The 21st Century Language Act does not include replacement language.
Advocates say the moves are not merely politically correct word-policing, but legitimate attempts to ease the debilitating stigma attached to mental illness and developmental disability.
"The written laws of the US, let alone the ones at the state level, are official pronouncements," says Bob Carolla, a spokesman for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
"It can show up in court proceedings, it can show up in any kind of legal citation or boilerplate. Anyone with a mental illness is never going to know when they're going to be slapped in the face by it, and it's coming in a very official context."
Not only is the word "lunatic" older than the current understanding of mental illness - it is far older than the English language itself.
The word stems from the Latin "luna" meaning moon, with the "atic" suffix meaning "of the kind of", according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
The OED says the word originally referred to a kind of insanity supposedly dependent on the phases of the moon.
The word, written in Latin as "lunaticus", an adjective, first appears in writing in the 4th Century Vulgate Bible, attributed to St Jerome.
In Matthew 17:15, a man asks Jesus to have mercy on his son who "lunaticus est". More than a millennium later, the compilers of the King James Version translated "lunaticus" as "lunatick".
Passed through languagesIn the Digest, a 6th Century legal code ordered compiled by the Emperor Justinian, "lunatic" shows up in a passage discussing the value of slaves.
The word may have entered English through Norman French, which received it from late Latin.
“When it originally was put in the law, it didn't have the same connotations that it has today. It wasn't intentionally derogatory - it became so over time”
Allan Horowitz, Rutgers University sociologist in English, it first appears in the South English Legendary, a verse compendium of saints' lives composed in the 13th Century near Gloucester. Roughly a century later, it shows up in The Vision of Piers Plowman, the late-14th Century allegorical poem by William Langland.
The word enters the American medical lexicon in the 19th Century with the development of modern psychiatry, says medical historian Gerald Grob, an emeritus professor at Rutgers University.
"'Lunatic' was a descriptive word," he says. "Today we would use 'mental illness' or the like."
And only later did it develop an offensive, pejorative connotation, researchers say.
In the 19th Century, the so-called lunatic asylums, often run by the city or state, became overcrowded and the target of reformers.
The word "lunatic" thus developed a sordid, hateful association, and it dropped out of the medical lexicon by the end of the 19th Century, Prof Grob says. It was replaced by "insane", and subsequently by "mental illness".
The US law that would be amended by the new bill was passed in 1947. In the Senate, Kent Conrad said federal law should reflect the 21st Century understanding of mental illness, a notion shared by scholars.
"This thinking is definitely antiquated and it needs to disappear," says Christopher Lane, a professor of English at Northwestern University in Illinois, and author of Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness.
"Any move to present those conditions in a more neutral and scientifically informed way should be welcomed."
Advocates say 'lunatic' unfairly connotes danger and unpredictabilityDangerous and unpredictableMental health advocates describe the move as a small step toward healing the stigma of mental illness.
The word "lunatic" connotes danger, wildness and unpredictability, says Prof Patrick Corrigan, a professor of psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
"It sort of captures them in a snap shot as this dangerous, unpredictable, different soul," he says.
The preferred terminology is "people-first" language that does not define individuals diagnosed with mental illness by the condition.
"If somebody has a diagnosis of schizophrenia, that may be a significant thing in their life but it isn't their whole being, their whole identity," says Eduardo Vega, director of the California Center for Dignity, Social Inclusion and Stigma Elimination.
"The impulse to define people by a characteristic, and in particular a disability or an illness, is very dehumanising."
Researchers and scholars note that the removal of the word "lunatic" illustrates plainly how quickly language evolves - and warn journalists, legislators and medical professionals not to get too attached to the new vocabulary.
"I would be confident that 100 years from now, the terms that we now see as enlightened will be seen in the same way that we consider these old-fashioned terms," says Allan Horowitz, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University who studies mental illness.
The Wind of Change: Dinosaur flatulence might have warmed Earth
Breaking wind news from Reuters :
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a major new climate finding, researchers have calculated that dinosaur flatulence could have put enough methane into the atmosphere to warm the planet during the hot, wet Mesozoic era.
Like gigantic, long-necked, prehistoric cows, sauropod dinosaurs roamed widely around the Earth 150 million years ago, scientists reported in the journal Current Biology on Monday.
And just like big cows, their plant digestion was aided by methane-producing microbes.
"A simple mathematical model suggests that the microbes living in sauropod dinosaurs may have produced enough methane to have an important effect on the Mesozoic climate," researcher Dave Wilkinson of Liverpool John Moores University said in a statement.
"Indeed, our calculations suggest that these dinosaurs could have produced more methane than all modern sources - both natural and man-made - put together," Wilkinson said.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with as much as 25 times the climate-warming potential ascarbon dioxide.
This gas is enough of a factor in modern global warming that scientists have worked to figure out how much methane is emitted by cows, sheep and other plant-eating animals.
The inquiry raised questions about whether the same thing could have happened in the distant past.
Wilkinson and co-author Graeme Ruxton of the University of St. Andrews worked with methane expert Euan Nisbet at the University of London to make an educated guess about the degree to which gaseous emissions from sauropods could have warmed the atmosphere.
Calculating methane emissions from modern animals depends only on the total mass of the animals in question. A mid-sized sauropod probably weighed about 44,000 pounds (20,000 kilos), and there were a few dozen of them per square mile (kilometre), the researchers found.
They reckoned that global methane emissions from sauropods were about 520 million tons per year, comparable to all modern methane emissions. Unlike emissions of carbon dioxide, which come from natural sources but also from the burning of fossil fuels, methane emissions have decreased substantially since the start of the Industrial Revolution some 150 years ago.
Before the fossil-fuel intensive Industrial Revolution took off, methane emissions were roughly 200 million tons annually; modern ruminants, including cows, goats, giraffes and other animals, emit between 50 million and 100 million tons of methane a year.
(Reporting By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent; Editing by Marilyn W. Thompson and Todd Eastham)
Man who dressed as dead mother guilty of fraud
From Reuters :
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A man who impersonated his dead mother as part of a real estate scam - using lipstick, manicured nails and even an oxygen tank at a meeting - was convicted of fraud on Thursday and faces up to 83 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Thomas Parkin, 51, was found guilty of 11 criminal counts, including charges of fraud, grand larceny, perjury and forgery for his scams. Along with the real estate fraud, Parkin and a partner cashed his mother's social security checks every month for six years, stealing about $44,000.
The real estate scam cantered on an apartment building in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn that Parkin's mother, Irene Pruskin, had deeded to her son in the 1990s.
In January 2003, nine months before his mother died, Parkin was forced to sell the building at a foreclosure auction. Soon after, Parkin and another man, Mhilton Rimolo, 49, filed a fraud lawsuit against the building's new owner -- under his dead mother's name.
Parkin then doctored documents to make it appear that his mother was still alive, and even set up a meeting with the Brooklyn District Attorney's real estate fraud unit to discuss the matter.
At the meeting, investigators from the fraud unit found "Parkin dressed as his 77-year-old mother, wearing a red cardigan, lipstick, manicured nails and breathing through an oxygen tank," prosecutors said on Thursday.
Parkin is due to be sentenced on May 21. Rimolo, his partner in the fraud, previously pled guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.
(Reporting by Paul Thomasch)
$20k Trainers End Tallest Man's Shoe Struggle
From SKY News : When you are the tallest man in the US, finding a new pair of shoes is not as simple as popping down the road to the shops.
For Igor Vovkovinskiy, who stands at 7ft 8in tall (2.34m) and is between a 22 and 25 size shoe, it will take weeks to perfect the fit.
The 29-year-old, who is originally from the Ukraine, has had 15 operations over six years to fix problems created by shoes that did not fit.
But Reebok are now designing a pair of shoes to end his struggle, at the cost of up to \$20,000 (£12,300).
Mr Vovkovinskiy had to have a complex fitting that involved custom pressure-mounting equipment, bio-foam, a device that takes precise measurements of length, a tape measure and several technicians.
Reebok will spend around six weeks creating prototypes to try and will then fine-tune them to produce proper-fitting shoes.
Mr Vovkovinskiy claims his only current shoes have no traction, making it "suicidal" to leave his home.
"I haven't been able to go for a joyful walk for six years now," he said. "I look forward to just going for a walk with my dog, just walking around the neighbourhood."
"Basically, I'm a prisoner of my own house, even though I am medically cleared to walk.
"Where am I going to go with shoes that are painful?"
Mr Vovkovinskiy is originally from the Ukraine but moved to Minnesota aged seven so that he could get treatment for his condition, known as pituitary gigantism.
He had to spend three years resting in bed after surgery and said: "Living the last six years has been a nightmare basically."