Saturday, December 27, 2008

Brain implant to stimulate orgasms.

From LiveScience:

Researchers at Oxford University say a brain implant will one day stimulate pleasure centers for people who have trouble enjoying sex and otherwise experiencing pleasure, according to a UK news report.

The sex chip, as it's been dubbed, would stimulate a part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex, targeting a joyless condition called anhedonia, according to the Daily Mail newspaper. A device along the same lines has been used already to treat Parkinson's disease, the researchers said, but a workable implant for stimulating orgasms is said to be a decade away because for now the surgery is too crude and intrusive.

"When the technology is improved, we can use deep brain stimulation in many new areas," said researcher Tipu Aziz of Oxford. "It will be more subtle, with more control over the power so you may be able to turn the chip on and off when needed."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Man uses blowtorch to melt ice, burns down house.

From the Houston Chronicle:

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Fire officials in New Bedford, Mass., say a man using a blowtorch to melt ice on his back porch ended up setting his house on fire, causing up to $30,000 in damage.

Fire Capt. Scott Kruger tells The Standard-Times of New Bedford that no on was injured during Monday's incident at the three-story home.

Kruger says the man was using a torch hooked up to a 20-pound propane cylinder. He got too close to the building's wood frame and ignited the vinyl siding. The fire quickly spread into the building's second- and third-floor apartments.

It took 25 firefighters to subdue the blaze that damaged bedrooms in the upstairs units, and caused damage to the structure and wiring.

The homeowner will not be charged.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Have a holly, jolly Coozer Christmas.

From all of us (well, just me and my cat), hope you have a fun and safe xmas and score lots of loot!

Use the comments to tell us what Santa brought you!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The 8 Best Drunk Jeff Goldblum Videos.

The Coozer Files does not condone this mockery of The Goldblum. Clearly, video editing techniques were used to falsify His mighty vocal inflections. We share this link with you to spread our outrage and demand justice.


Eats: Cocoa prices hit 23-year high.

Interesting: Peru alters foreign inmate rules.

Military: US soldiers must now reveal language skills.

Lame: China arrests dozens in Tibet for "spreading rumors".

Politics: White House e-mail trail grows cold with sudden death of Bush IT expert.

Film: Disney pulls out from third Narnia film.

Eats: Tons of counterfeit Ferrero Rocher seized.

WTF: Escalator fires bullets at store customers!

Awesome: Japanese government to financially aid foreigners who've lost their jobs.

Lame: Madoff sets Jewish image back 70 years.

PSA: UK warns shops about thousands of fake Colgate tubes laced with anti-freeze.

Funny: Merry Christmas from Henchmen #21 & 24.

Zombie Watch: Man arrested for smuggling mummies.

Tut tut... From BBC:

An Australian man has been arrested at Cairo airport after security staff found ancient Egyptian animal mummies in his luggage, reports say.

An airport official said the mummies of a cat and an ibis, a long-beaked bird, dated back to 300 BC.

He said another 19 figurines of ancient Egyptian gods were also found in the passenger's bags.

The man has been charged with smuggling antiquities, which can carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

Disgruntled customer attacks sex shop.

Talk about impotent rage! From
A MAN shot and wounded a saleswoman in a Russian sex shop overnight after the impotence tablets he bought failed to have the desired effect, Russian media quoted police as saying.

The man walked into the "Intim" shop in a Moscow suburb on Christmas Eve and demanded a refund for the tablets he had bought there a day earlier, Interfax news agency quoted law enforcement sources as saying.

He shot the shop assistant with a pistol when she refused to give him back his money, the agency said.

Sex in car + bad brakes = d'oh!

I love the pun in the last line. From Ananova:

A naked couple had to be pulled from a freezing river after their car plunged off the bank while they were making love.

The couple told rescue workers in Moscow that they had driven to the beauty stop, beside the Lihoborka River, for a kiss and a cuddle.

But their passion proved too strong for the car's brakes and the next thing they knew the car slid into the icy water, reports daily newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Rescuers winched the driver and his 26-year-old girlfriend to safety where paramedics treated them for exposure.

Michigan city bans annoying behavior.

Could we do this in NYC? Or would that mean no more subway ridership? From ABC News:

As part of an amended harassment ordinance, the seven-member Brighton City Council voted this month to make annoying behavior a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine.

"I think it's the most ridiculous thing in the world," Brighton resident Charles Griffin told "And I think everyone who voted for it should be impeached."

But town officials say the local media has blown the issue way out of proportion and, as a result, residents are misinformed.

"It's not an annoyance ordinance," Brighton Police Chief Thomas Wightman said. "It's a harassment ordinance."

The legislation prohibits physical violence in public places, insulting another person in a public place or harassing another person by telephone, e-mail or other forms of communication.

But the paragraph many are paying attention to reads: "It shall be unlawful for a person to engage in a course of conduct or repeatedly commit acts that alarm or seriously annoy another person and that serve no legitimate purpose."

Diet Coke Plus in violation of FDA standards.

Well, at least I'm still getting my daily allotment of aspartame, caramel color, and phosphoric acid. From AdWeek:
Diet Coke Plus was launched in 2006 as “a good source of vitamins B3, B6 and B12, and the minerals zinc and magnesium,” per company press materials.

The letter asserts that the product is “misbranded” because it “bears the nutrient content claim ‘plus’ but does not comply with the regulations governing the use of this claim.”

Coke rep Scott Williamson said, “We take seriously the issues raised by the FDA in its letter. This does not involve any health or safety issues, and we believe the label on Diet Coke Plus complies with FDA's policies and regulations. We will provide a detailed response to the FDA in early January."

The letter adds: “The FDA does not consider it appropriate to fortify snack foods such as carbonated beverages.” Additionally, it said the product does not state the identity of a “reference food and the percentage” thus it fails to meet the requirements for adding a “plus” claim.

The FDA’s claims are “absolutely ridiculous,” said Bill Sipper, senior partner at Cascadia Consulting, a food and beverage consultancy based in Ramsey, N.J. “They should worry about tracking our beef supply versus tracking the word ‘plus’…Nobody really thinks they are getting their vitamins from Diet Coke.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Now vanilla is in danger!

Last week, I reported that the world's chocolate supply is in peril. Well, I thought, at least there's vanilla. I was a fool. Check this out:

Savour the egg-nog while you can - a lethal disease is wiping out vanilla plantations in Madagascar, the world's major producer of the spice.

Last week Simeon Rakotomamonjy and his team at the National Center for Research Applied to Rural Development in Antananarivo reported that an unknown fungus has struck 80 per cent of plantations in two of the country's main growing areas.

They blame a price surge in the 1990s, which prompted farmers to plant seedlings too densely and without optimal shade and moisture. Since vanilla is propagated as cuttings it has little genetic diversity. Both factors make it a prime target for the fungal disease - which has yet to be properly diagnosed.

Pope: Homosexuality as great a threat as rainforest destruction.

Hmm, two men kissing = complete collapse of the world's ecosystem. That's some kiss. From Daily Mail:

The Pope has declared that saving the world from homosexual behaviour is as important as saving the rainforests.

In a Christmas message, Benedict XVI stressed the importance of traditional marriage and condemned gay acts as against God's will.

He also attacked transsexuals, saying: 'It is not man who decides who is a man or woman but God.'

Pope Benedict, 82, known as God's Rottweiler for his hardline views, made the comments in his festive address to the Vatican's governing body, the Curia.

He said: 'The Church must defend not only the earth, the water and the air as gifts of creation belonging to everyone, but it must also protect mankind against the destruction of itself.

'The tropical forests deserve our protection, but man as a creature deserves it no less.'

Monday, December 22, 2008


Science: Space Toilet News!

Yipes: Japan asked the US for a nuclear strike on China.

Awesome: Canadian traffic cop has boogie fever!

Trends: Astrology holds sway over Sri Lanka.

Aww: Cute bunny born without ears.

Music: Jeopardy! star Ken Jennings's top 10 albums of 2008. (Whoa!)

Bailout banks spent $1.6B toward executive bonuses.

From ABC News:
Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits in the calendar year 2007, an Associated Press analysis reveals.

The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages.

Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, the AP review of federal securities documents found.

The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for 53 of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines.

Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services committee and a long-standing critic of executive largesse, said the bonuses tallied by the AP review amount to a bribe "to get them to do the jobs for which they are well paid in the first place.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hong Kong: The New Territories (Day 3, Part 1)

Back to the travelogue!

So. Having conquered Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, Kelly and I decided to explore more of the mainland above Kowloon. This large area between Kowloon and China is known as the New Territories, and is peppered with cities and towns of various types (from poor villages to industrialized areas to college towns), and has many pockets of natural beauty. Like the rest of Hong Kong, just about every place has a street market and a ginormous mall.

There's a ton to do, but we only had a day to explore. We had a tough decision ahead of us: of the two train routes that branch from Kowloon, do we go either west on the KCR West line, or east on the (you guessed it) KCR East line? The KCR West line seemed better for natural beauty - Shing Mun and Tai Lam Country Parks, Tai Mo Sha (Hong Kong's highest peak), botanical gardens at Shek Kong, the Mui Fat Monastery, and - most intriguing - the Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve and the Hong Kong International Wetland Park. The East line, on the other hand, snakes due north, hitting the famous 10,000 Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin, the markets of Tai Po, and finally Sheng Shui, the furthest you can go on the rail before crossing into the Chinese border.

My wife loves birds and parks and crap like that, and, reluctantly, some of that has rubbed off on me. I agonized with the decision, but, randomly hearing that the Wetland Park may be off-limits to foreigners, I settled on the East line.

Our first stop was Sha Tin. Ignoring the mall, we walked down a road and was greeted with a HUGE structure - a temple so large and multi-leveled that it had an escalator! Certainly this had to be the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery!

We climbed up, veering off into side areas with turtle and koi ponds, and simple, elegant rooms housing shrines to the deceased. My wife's grandfather's ashes are in a similar Buddhist temple in Los Angeles, so I knew what I was seeing - thousands and thousands of little cabinets with the remains of loved ones. Maybe the 10,000 Buddhas refer to the departed?

Solemnly, we moved from one room to another, all the way to the top. During the ascent, I spotted awesome posters warning visitors about the wild monkeys that apparently wreak much havoc, especially if you happen to be carrying around bananas.

The poster was super cute and I headed over to the administrative office to see if they had an extra. As I inquired about monkey posters, the office attendant dug into her pocket and unfolded a page that said: "I do not speak English. You are in the wrong place. 10,000 Buddhas Monastery is down the road."

We had mistakenly wandered into the Po Fook Ancestral Worship Halls! It was an excellent mistake, as the Halls and shrines were amazing. Hopefully it's not bad karma to photograph and reprint pictures of the deceased, but I found the temples to be lovely. I wouldn't mind spending eternity at one, so long as I didn't have to deal with dumb tourists like myself.

We climbed down and then walked through a nondescript alley. We came upon an upwardly winding trail lined ad infinitum with gold Buddhas. Each one was different, and they were all amusing - many had funny expressions and seemed to be enjoying watching Western tourists get shin splints. This trail went on for a very, very, very long time, but it was really neat.

After awhile, the Buddhas started looking like people I knew. This guy looks like Oliver Platt:

And this one has a remarkable likeness of my friend Kelly!

At the top is a large temple with the walls lined with Buddhas. I'm talking A LOT of Buddhas. This place is the Buddha jackpot.

Amazingly, each one is different and each are named.

Also at the summit is a large courtyard with giant animal statues and a vegetarian restaurant, where we feasted on delicious crispy veggie rolls, sweet & sour tofu, and a mixed veggie dish, and drank tea by the buckets. Sated, we walked around the courtyard, enjoying the ornate statues and views of Sha Tin.

I also spotted Falcor from the Neverending Story!

Snooping around a bit, we took an unused pathway and came across workers building MORE Buddhas! Because, you know, 10,000 isn't enough.

We took a different trail down the mountain, one that started out with lots of Buddhas but then became part of a pathway through a somewhat sad and downtrodden village (I think Pai Tau).

We weren't quite sure where we were, but we saw a sign that said "Bookstore and Bee Farm" and immediately headed there. I could use a new book for the plane home, I thought to myself, maybe a breezy Nick Hornby novel. And I could always use some fresh honey.

What followed was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life.

We followed handwritten signs to the "bookstore", a private residence up a flight of stairs. As I tromped up, a man gruffly called out: "Who goes there?" (He actually said that.) "Umm, I'm here for the bookstore...?" I said uncertainly. "Yes, yes, fine. How many are with you?" "Just two," I said. "Fine."

We stepped into the small residence and a tall, wiry Chinese man paced around with agitation. "Okay, fine, you want to see the bookstore. Then we start from the beginning. Come with me." We followed him through three other small, nearly bare rooms, and we stopped at a wall. He pointed to a childlike, semi-abstract drawing of stars. "I write about life, the stars, and the universe. I drew this."

Then he hurried us into the next room, this one with two or three books on a shelf. "I wrote these in Chinese and English. They are about the universe." Then the third room: "I made these three tapestries. These tapestries explain everything in the books." At this point, I felt it polite to say something. "Wow. They are very nice," I said. "Yes," he assured us, "but you can not buy these tapestries. I will never sell them. Come."

The last room was the entrance, where there was a pile of the books he had written. "These are not for sale. I only keep copies for myself. You can offer me anything. One man from Florida offered me $2,000 but I would not sell them!"

I wasn't going to offer anything, but politeness again took hold. "Well," I said, "you must be very proud of these very fascinating and important works you have created and devoted your life to." "Not really," he said dismissively, "but people seem to like them."

We paused awkwardly and then left in a bit of a daze. What just happened?

We stumbled over to the Bee Farm, which appeared to be an abandoned cage with some angry-sounding bees flying around. We decided to leave Sha Tin.

We hopped back on the KCR train, and after considering stopping off at Tai Po for their markets, we decided to stay on and go all the way to Sheng Shui.

Sheng Shui is just a couple of miles from the Chinese border and, by many accounts, is a Hong Kong city that is most like what you'd find in China. Sure enough, it seemed to be overcast in that gray, hazy palor that's always in my mind's eye when I think about China, and the streets were choked with blaring traffic, establishments of ill repute with gaudy advertisements, and industrial griminess. Far from Kowloon and Hong Kong proper, there were no English signs here, and English comprehension is limited if present at all.

We walked through the crowded, commercial streets, then turned down some alleys and into a huge market area, sprawling with narrow arteries of stands filled with meats, fruits, toys, trinkets, and clothes. In the shadows of closely placed buildings, the market was dark and mysterious - even a little exotic. It was one of those moments when I felt like I was in a truly different place. That stranger-in-a-strange-land feeling is one I crave whenever I travel, but was often times elusive in the rest of English-friendly and accessible Hong Kong.

See, told ya it was dark:

Although the multitude of hanging meat tubes were tempting, I bought a set of dice that had pictures of prawns and other sea creatures on them. The woman at the stand explained in Chinese that the dice are for a betting game. I understood that much through pantomime, but when she tried explaining the rules for the game, we both fell into fits of laughter. Just from that cute experience, my humble prawn dice might be my favorite thing I brought back from Hong Kong.

Having our fill of the smells of dried fish and intestines, we took the train back toward Kowloon, where our day continued. Oh, yes, there is more to this day - we haven't even gotten to lunch yet! Stay tuned.