Sunday, June 24, 2007

Close Encounters

In a survey done by Life Magazine in 2000, it was found out that 30% of Americans believed that aliens have visited the earth, 7% said they or someone they know has seen one, and 21% say that they would board an alien spacecraft if invited. New Mexico is the state with the most UFO sightings, followed by Wisconsin, where on a lonely stretch of road outside a town called Dundee, sightings are so common that there is a tavern named Benson's highway and UFO bar.

So, do UFO's really exists?

As of 2001, there are actually 56 reported cases of near misses between airplanes and UFO's. Here are some of incidents that are recorded by the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP):
  • In 1981, Capt. Phil Schultz was piloting a TWA flight over Lake Michigan when a large silver object descended directly toward his airplane, avoiding it only by making a high speed turn at the last second.
  • In 1995, an Aerolineas Argentinas flight was approached by a luminous object as it tried to land at Bariloche Airport. Before the UFO disappeared, the lights at the airport mysteriously went out and instruments in the control tower started fluctuating wildy.
  • In 1997, a Swissair 747 over Long Island narrowly avoided a glowing white object approaching the plane.
You can find more incidents from this report published by NARCAP.

And on Jan 26, 2001, the crew of a cargo aircraft refused to take off due to a glowing object hovering over Barnaul Airport's runway in Siberia. Crew of another craft refused to land for the same reason, taking their cargo to a nearby airport instead. The UFO vanished some 90 minutes after first appearing.

There are even American presidents who claimed to have seen UFOS:

During a routine flight while he as governor of California, Ronald Reagan reported seeing a bright white light zigzagging through the sky. After having his plane give chase for a few minutes, Reagan told in an interview that "all of a sudden to our utter amazement it went straight up into the heavens."

Jimmy Carter had a similar experience in 1969, 7 years before he was elected president. "It was the darndest thing I've ever seen," Carter said during the 1976 campaigh. "It was big, it was very bright, it changed colors and it was about the size of the moon. We watched it for 10 minutes, but none of us could figure out what it was. One thing's for sure, I'll never make fun of people who say they've seen unidentified objects in the sky."

Then, there is the case of an alleged meeting between President Dwight Eisenhower and aliens. Eisenhower was on vacation in Palm Springs when, on the night of Feb 20, 1954, he made an unscheduled departure from where he was staying. Several hours later, the Associated Press reported that "Pres. Eisenhower died tonight of a heart attack" but then retracted the story minutes later. On the following day, officials claimed he was only at the dentist fixing a chipped tooth. American University professor Michael Salla and other researchers believed that Eisenhower secretly met with aliens that evening at Edwards Air Force Base. The claim has been repeatedly made in UFO books and the media, and emphatically denied by those close to Eisenhower.

Random Odds & Ends
  • A UFO sighting occurs somewhere on the planet every three minutes.
  • In April 1962, NASA pilot, Joseph Walker, filmed five cylindrical and disc-shaped objects from his X-15 aircraft. NASA refused to reveal any evidence that might substantiate the pilots' claims -- photographs or films were never released.
  • The first documented UFO sighting is in the Bible. The prophet Ezekiel described a "great cloud with fire enfolding itself, a wheel in the middle of a wheel that descended and fired lightning bolts into the earth."
  • The first photograph of a UFO was taken in 1883 by astronomer Jose Bonilla in Zacatecas, Mexico.
  • On Feb. 25, 1942, a large, dark object over the Los Angeles coastline was mistaken for a Japanese attack and drew a barrage of anti-aircraft fire. Memos to President Roosevelt confirmed the existence of unidentified aerial objects.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Harry Potter and Other Books

The 5th installment in the Harry Potter series "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" will be on theaters worldwide July 11, and a lot of movie fans are already excited to see it on the big screen. This book by J.K. Rowling is the fastest-selling book of all time, selling 5 million copies in the U.S. and another 1 million copies in the U.K. within the first 24 hours it was released. The book went on sale June 21, 2003 at 12:01 a.m. and Barnes and Noble sold the book at a rate of more than 80 copies per second. By midnight of June 22, 1 in every 60 americans had bought a copy of the book.

A true Harry Potter fan, 16-year old Emerson Spartz flew from Chicago to London on June 21, 2003 for the sole purpose of buying a copy of the same book, putting him in the world record as having to made the longest distance ever traveled to buy a book (3,950 miles). As Spartz told the Los Angeles Times, "I want to feel the weight of that book". Spartz is also the founder of the Harry Potter fansite MuggleNet.

The 4th book in the Harry Potter series, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" ranked as the second fastest-selling book, having sold 3 million copies in the first 48 hours. The Harry Potter books were really good to its author, J.K. Rowling, and made her one of the world's richest. She is now richer than Queen Elizabeth II.

Harry Potter books not only ranked as the fastest-selling books, it is also ranked as the most frequently banned book in america. Not only it was banned, it was also, at times, burned. Jack Brock, pastor of the Christ Community Church in New Mexico called the Potter books "a masterpiece of satanic deception" as his congregation burned them in December 2001. Another congregation in Greenville, Michigan, relegated Harry Potter books and other "witchcraft items" to a bonfire in August 2003.

While Harry Potter books are the fastest-selling books of all-time, the best-selling copyrighted book of all time is "Guiness Book of World Records". The book that records all amazing feats and records got listed on its own page in 1974 when 23.9 million copies were sold, and had cracked the 100 million sales threshold on November 2003. The book was originally conceived on a 1951 hunting trip when an argument ensued about what was Europe's fastest bird. No book held the answer, so Norris and Ross McWhirter wrote one.

The best-selling non-copyrighted works, in order are (1) The Bible, (2) The Koran, and (3) Mao Tse Tung's Little Red Book.

The world's most prolific author is Brazilian Jose Carlos Ryoki Inoue. After abandoning a medical career in 1986, Inoue has authored a staggering 1,070 books. Using 39 different pseudonyms, Inoue wrote mostly pulp fiction, detective stories and westerns. Aside from these books, he had written over 38 million words in his diary during the span of over 2 decades. He can write a chapter during a trip to the bathroom, and a 195-page novel in one day. Inoue once said, "Truthfully, I haven't even read all the books I've written".

The Book of Psalms is the world's oldest bound book. Discovered in 1984 in a Christian cemetery 85 miles south of Cairo, Egypt, the 490-page manuscript dates back to the 2nd half of the 4th century A.D. The Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is the world's oldest bookstore that is still in operations. It was originally founded in 1745.

And, lastly, here are the original titles of some famous books:
  • Catch-18 (Catch-22) - Heller changed the title because Leon Uris had released a book titled Mila 18 on the same year.
  • Pansy (Gone With The Wind) - In earlier drafts, Scarlett was named Pansy O'Hara, hence Mitchell's aborted title for the book. Other titles he thought of were "Tote the Weary Load" and "Tomorrow is Another Day".
  • 1805 (War and Peace) - Tolstoy originally meant to call it "1825", then published it as "1805" before changing it to War and Peace.
  • Trimalchio in West Egg (The Great Gatsby) - Another title Fitzgerald considered was "The High Bouncing Lover".
  • The Last Man in Europe (1984) - Orwell thought "The Last Man" title was too bleak and instead switched the last two digits of the year it was completed (1948) to come up with the title.
Random Odds & Ends:
  • The first public library in the U.S. opened in 1698 in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Dorothy Straight was only 4 years old in 1964 when she wrote the book How the World Began, for her grandmother. Her parents sent it to the publisher who thought the book was good enough to be published, thus making her the youngest published author.
  • A.A. Milne used his son as the inspiration for the character Christopher Robin in his Winnie the Pooh book series. His son, also named Christopher Robin, grew up hating the books because his schoolmates teased him.
  • Agatha Christie (1890–1976) is the world’s best-selling fiction writer. She wrote 78 crime novels that sold more than 2 billion copies.
  • J.J. Audubon's The Birds of America, published in 1840, is the most expensive book in the world. In March 2000, it was sold for $8,802,500 — the highest price ever paid for a book. You can find hardcover copies in Amazon for less than $10.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Highway To Hell

I don't know if our planet is really being affected by global warming, but it really seems like it is getting hotter and hotter every summer. This year was no exception, and to where I'm living people are really getting impatient of the hot weather, and often you will hear them say something like "Its hotter than hell in here". Well, I know that its just an expression, but it did make me wonder... what is the temperature in hell, anyway? So, as soon as I got to my trusted PC, I get online and find it out.

According to a 1998 study made by two physicists from University of Santiago in Spain, the temperature of Hell is 833°F (445°C). How did they come up with this figure? By referencing to a passage in the New Testament that says "the fearful and unbelieving... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." (Revelation 21:8). According to the two physicists, in order for such a lake to exist, the temperature must be below the boiling point of sulfur, which is just under 833°F. If the temperature is higher than that, the brimstone would vaporize into gas.

Surprisingly, heaven was first thought of being even hotter than hell. In an article in the Journal of Applied Optics in 1972, it was concluded that heaven reached temperature of 976°F (524°C). A 1998 study, however, determined the previous study was faulty and that the real temperature of heaven is 448.43°F (231.35°C). Still very hot, but cooler than hell. Physicist Jorge Perez, who was involved with that study, said "It's good that the bad people know that hell is hotter than heaven".

A lot of Americans believe in hell and in the devil. In fact, according to a study in 2000, in an average year, there are 10 to 15 exorcisms being performed in the New York archdiocese. According to traditional Roman Catholic belief, Beelzebub, the leader of the angels who rebelled against God, is incapable of overcoming the Almighty but is capable of possessing individual souls. That is when an exorcist is called in, and the Vatican has had a how-to guide for exorcists since 1614 and recently updated in 1999.

In a Gallup poll conducted in 2004, 81% of Americans believe in heaven, and 70% believe in hell. 4% of those Americans also believed they have a good chance of ending up in hell. Actually, you can visit Hell now... there are 3 places in the world named "Hell" - a town in Michigan, a village in Norway and a tiny community in Grand Cayman Islands.

In 2003, the New Mexico legislature changed the name of US Route 666 to 393. The number 666 is referred to in the Book of Revelation as "the number of the beast". The road, which starts in Gallup, New Mexico and runs into Colorado and Utah, has an extremely high accident rate, which is reason enough to be superstitious and have the name changed.

Lastly, in case you place a call to Kleberg County, Texas, don't be surprised if the one who answer the phone greet you with "Heaven-o". In 1997, a resolution was passed to use "Heaven-o" as the official county greeting instead of the usual "Hello" which contains the word, you guessed it, hell.

Random Odds & Ends
  • The longest name in the Bible is Mahershalalhashbaz (Isaiah 8:1)
  • The word 'God' appears in the bible 3,358 times. The word 'Lord' appears 7,736 times.
  • The Bible is the world's best-selling book, it's also the world's most shoplifted book.
  • Seven suicides are recorded in the Bible.
  • In a 1631 printing of the Bible, an English printer made a mistake of leaving 'not' from the Seventh commandment, causing it to read - 'Thou shalt commit adultery'. This edition was called as the Wicked Bible.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hair Day

Male-pattern baldness is a dilemma that a lot of middle-aged men face and try to beat. Millions of dollars are spent on different drugs, cosmetics, shampoos and various operations that offers to cure or prevent baldness. Though some of them may have some positive effect on some men, there is actually, only one effective way to prevent male-pattern baldness. And I am going to reveal this method to you before the end of this post. No, I am not selling an ebook or going to advertise a product. I will give you the secret, all for free. But first, let me tell you some odds and ends about hair.

Do you know that during early ages, barbers, in addition to cutting hair, are also practicing surgery? Barbers began performing surgery in 1163 because monks, who had traditionally done so, had to relinquish any bloody duties (deemed unholy) to secular citizens. Since barbers were already adept at wielding sharp instruments, they were the natural choice. The red stripes on the modern-day barber pole come from that earlier times when bandages were aired out to dry. It was only in 1745 that surgeons were separated from barbers.

Today, barbershops seems to be dwindling in numbers as more and more people prefer to go to salons for their hair cut. In 1963, there were about 106,000 barbershops in the U.S. By the year 2001, the number was estimated to be just 45,000.

In 2004, most salon in the U.S. charges between $10-$25 for a haircut. Sally Hershberger set the going rate when she raised her price to $600 at her Manhattan salon in 2003, but was soon outpriced by Orlo, a new salon opened by Orlando Pita in New York. The said salon charges $800 for an 80-minute cut, making it the world's most expensive regular haircut. Pita defended the price by saying, "You can spend a lot on clothes, but you wear you hair every day."

By the way, if you are planning to have a haircut, the full moon is the best time to do it. According to ancient superstitions and still hold true to some people (mostly Italians), cutting hair during a full moon will make it grow back faster and fuller.

Humans have an average of about 100,000 number of hairs on his or her scalp. Redheads tend to have less - about 90,000 hairs, whereas blonds typically have about 140,000 hairs, with brunettes falling somewhere in between. About 100 hairs fall out every day, to be replaced by 100 new sprouts.

The animal with the most hair is sea otter, which have 170,000 to 1 million hairs per square inch. Humans seem bald in comparis0n - we have only about 1,000 hairs per square inch.

Popular people can also earn money with their hair. Here are the cost of strands of celebrity hair on some recent auctions:

Abraham Lincoln (2004) - $3,750 (for 40 strands)
King Louis XIV (1998) - $5,636
Mickey Mantle (1997) - $6,900
Beethoven (1994) - $7,300 (578 strands)
Napoleon (1998) - $9,200
Marilyn Monroe (2004) - $11,500
Elvis Presley (2002) - $115,120

And of couse, everyone knows about Britney Spears shaving her head earlier this year and apparently finding its way getting auctioned at ebay with starting price of $1 million. Ebay pulled the auction off saying that it was a fake, but re-surfaced again by setting up its own website - While that website is now closed, a lot of other websites popped out claiming to have britney's hair, and now a few locks claiming to be part of that are being auctioned in ebay.

Ok. so now it's time to tell you what I promised - the best preventive measure against alopecia (clinical term for male-pattern baldness). Because testosterone is the reason and the trigger of this baldness, the best way to prevent is... castration. Yes, that will stop men from producing testosterone and therefore no cause for the said baldness. The only question is, would you rather have a full set of hair or a full set of balls?

Random Odds & Ends
  • Hair is the fastest growing tissue in the body, second only to bone marrow.
  • Hair grows faster in warm weather.
  • The number of disulfide bonds between hair proteins is the reason why some people have curly hair while others have straight. The greater the number of links, the curlier the hair.
  • There was once a law in Ireland that a man must have all facial hair above his mouth shaved in order to be recognised as an Englishman. This law was kept for 200 years.
  • Razors were found among relics of the Bronze Age (circa 3500 BC) in Egypt.
  • For world's longest hair records, click here.