Things You Didn’t Know

I wonder if Lou knew what the gnu knew?
I wonder if Lou knew what the gnu knew?
We live in an age of many wonders. Sure we don’t have jet packs or mass teleportation or the ability to communicate telepathically, but there are still some very cool things around us. This blog, for example. When I was a little Big Bad the only computers in existence were at NASA and in sci-fi movies. If I wanted to impart my wisdom upon you I would have needed a job at a newspaper or been willing to print my own scandal sheet and sell it on street corners. Now I can wake up, toss a cup of cheap java down my gullet and have at it. Of course just typing it doesn’t guarantee that anyone’s going to read it, but I seem to have gotten lucky in that regard. We now have cars that can run on batteries alone, planes that can fly at 5 times the speed of sound and phones that we can stick in our pockets. Some people stick their phones in other places but this blog is reasonably family oriented so we’ll ignore them. Simply put, there’s some very cool stuff out there that many of us take for granted.

However you know me better than to worry that I would waste your day opining about neat toys. No, if I’m going to write about stuff you don’t know then I’m probably going to write about stuff you really didn’t want to know.

To give you an idea, let’s start by talking about devil worms. Dave Mosher writes that scientists have discovered a new worm that lives miles beneath the surface and, technically, it shouldn’t, and couldn’t, be there.

A “devil worm” has been discovered miles under the Earth—the deepest-living animal ever found, a new study says.

The new nematode species—called Halicephalobus mephisto partly for Mephistopheles, the demon of Faustian legend—suggests there’s a rich new biosphere beneath our feet.

Before the discovery of the newfound worm at depths of 2.2. miles (3.6 kilometers), nematodes were not known to live beyond dozens of feet (tens of meters) deep. Only microbes were known to occupy those depths—organisms that, it turns out, may be the food of the 0.5-millimeter-long worm.

“That sounds small, but to me it’s like finding a whale in Lake Ontario. These creatures are millions of times bigger than the bacteria they feed on,” said study co-author Tullis Onstott, a geomicrobiologist at Princeton University in New Jersey.

Here’s an odd bit of trivia that will keep you awake for months; nematodes are segmented creatures and if one segment dies they simply replace it. So, barring a catastrophe, they can live forever. That means there are immortal worms living miles beneath your feet that are billions of times larger than the food they eat.

Sleep well.

Speaking of sleeping well, it turns out that homeless people are going to have a harder time doing that now since shelters are now charging for them to spend the night. Christina Hoag reports that more and more shelters are now being touted as Homeless Hotels.

Skid Row resident Dadisi Komolafe points indignantly to the sign reading “Union Rescue Mission,” and grumbles that the name no longer fits since the shelter started charging for a nightly stay.

“They should change it to `Union Hotel’,” said the nearly toothless jazz musician, who sleeps on the street. “If you have to pay to stay there, it’s not a mission. A lot of people are getting turned away.”

For decades, four missions have given out “three hots and a cot” for free in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row, where 4,000 down-on-their-luck people cram a 50-block area to form the nation’s densest concentration of homeless people. The overflow from the shelters — nearly 1,000 people — spills nightly onto urine-stained sidewalks in a bedlam of tents, cardboard boxes and sleeping bags.

Two months ago, Union Rescue started charging $7 for an overnight stay, and cut its three free meals a day to one.

The move was driven by budget woes caused by the pinch of plummeting funding and soaring demand. But Andy Bales, the mission’s chief executive, said he had been trying to institute fees for several years under a philosophy that homeless people should learn self-sufficiency. Faced with similar crunches, more shelters are taking that view.

“We’ve increased our sustainability, but we really think people are feeling better about themselves if they’re not just taking handouts,” Bales said.

Just FYI, general relief, the stipend that the state pays to homeless people so they can survive, is around $200.00 a month. Even if they gave up eating they couldn’t afford to stay there for a month.

I’m sure this will all work out just fine as more and more homeless people start migrating into nicer neighborhoods so they can feel safer. They may as well if there’s no place for them to sleep anywhere else.

Not all of the stories today are scary or depressing, the next one involves Florida so you know you’re going to laugh. Todd Wright reports on a man who asked his girlfriend to shoot him in the heart to prove his love, so she did.

A South Florida teen’s attempt at a stunt you might see on MTV’s “Jackass” ended with him in a hospital and barely surviving thanks to what doctors call a very unique heart.

Gabriel Mendigutia, 19, dared his girlfriend, Ally Castro, to shoot him in the chest with his pellet rifle at near point blank range, a Miami-Dade Police report read.

Castro allegedly closed her eyes and pulled the trigger and the pellet went directly through Mendigutia’s heart, eventually getting lodged in his back, Mendigutia told the Miami Herald reported.

The stunt gone wrong would have killed most people, doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital said.

But Mendigutia’s heart is special.

Despite the hole in his heart’s main artery, Mendigutia’s heart was able to pump blood around the bullet wound because of a “very rare” anatomical anomaly, doctors said.

“He is a miracle case because so many things went in his favor,” said Dr. Nicholas Namias, who performed the surgery to save Mendigutia’s life May 23.

Miami-Dade Police have ruled the incident an accidental shooting and Castro isn’t expected to face any charges.

Of course his heart is special. Where else would someone with mutant organs live but in Florida? Hopefully they’ll get married and this will become some sort of annual event to celebrate their undying, literally, love.

Maybe he’s part nematode.

Last, but certainly not least, it’s time to take a look at pole dancing. Ever since 2008, when Mormon moms wanted to add “Pole dancing for Jesus” as an Olympic sport – it’s okay, it’s in Corinthians – pole dancing has been making its way out of seedy night clubs and sweaty back rooms into the mainstream. And now, thanks to David Moye, we know that it’s being done on streets near you.

Yes, even you.

Now that pole dancing has moved out of strip clubs and into gyms, it seems only natural that it would end up in the streets.

That’s what happened recently in Medellin, Colombia, when some of the South American country’s most accomplished dancers took the street to promote the activity by swinging, twirling and climbing up every street sign and scaffold available.

The mass pole dance featured students and instructors based in Medellin. It was designed to promote pole dancing in Colombia as well as Miss Pole Dance Medellin, an event taking place July 2, and “Miss Pole Dance Colombia,” an event taking place July 30.

Organizer Alejandra Santamaria said the street-smart campaign is crucial to getting her fellow Colombians to recognize pole dancing as a great form of fitness.

“We wanted to promote what pole dance can be: a great deal of gymnastics, lots of technique and fun,” she told AOL Weird News. “Pole dance has still lots of space to grow. As of today, it is not even understood. In Latin America, many still think it is related to striptease and they have no clue about the challenge it represents.”

But as difficult as pole dancing can be in a gym or on a stage with a shiny brass pole, the techniques are even more difficult when practiced on wooden stakes or metal street signs, according to Ingrid Tsai, Santamaria’s partner in pole dance promotion.

“The hardest part in urban pole dancing is finding a structure with a good caliber,” Tsai said. “Usually, dancing poles have a diameter of 1.75 to two inches. Apart from the caliber, the material in street structures can make the job harder. Dancing poles are made from stainless steel or brass, which facilitates the friction you need to have between your skin and the surface.”

There you have it ladies, find a good pole with friction and hop on it to have at it.

That sounded dirtier than I intended, but I don’t care.

Here, at the World News Center we’ve had a “dancing pole” in the office since it opened. It’s how our female staff says so svelte. It’s also why the male staff shows up every day even though we haven’t been paid in months.

Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!

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