Odd Files

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Bureaucrat’s Delight An update of the official index for classifying medical conditions (for research and quality control, and for insurance claims) was released recently, to take effect in October 2013, and replaced the current 18,000 codes with 140,000 much more specific ones. A September Wall Street Journal report noted, for example, 72 different codes for […]

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Euthanasia Roller Coaster An option for suicide “with elegance and euphoria” is how Lithuanian-born Ph.D. candidate Julijonas Urbonas (London’s Royal College of Art) described his “Euthanasia (Roller) Coaster,” currently on the drawing board. Urbonas’ model of “gravitational aesthetics” would be a third-mile-long, 1,600-foot-high thrill ride engineered to supply 10 Gs of centrifugal force (a spin […]

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Fat for Sale Risky Business Models: (1) Orlando-area cosmetic surgeon Jeffrey Hartog inaugurated Liquid Gold, a storehouse for patients’ frozen liposuctioned fat, charging $900 to safekeep a coffee-cup-sized portion and $200 per year storage (in case the fat is needed later, as for smoothing facial wrinkles). A Massachusetts General Hospital physician shook his head, telling […]

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Not for the squeamish The medical establishment generally regards placentas (afterbirth) as biohazardous waste, but to New York City placenta chef Jennifer Mayer, they are a nutrient-laden meat that can alleviate postpartum depression and aid in breast milk production (among other so-far-unverified benefits). Mayer typically sets up in clients’ own kitchens, she told New York […]

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Worship Me “When I get to Africa, I have to worship him,” said Elizabeth Osei, part-time first lady of the Akwamu people of eastern Ghana, speaking of her husband Isaac, who is the Akwamu chief. “When I get back, he has to worship me” (because Elizabeth is the president of the couple’s New York City […]

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Nuclear Meltdown Richard Handl, 31, was arrested in southern Sweden in July after a raid on his home. He had been trying for months to set up a nuclear reactor in his kitchen, but became alarmed when a brew of americium, tritium and beryllium created a nuclear meltdown on his stove. Only then, he said, […]

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To the birds! The heavy hand of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service landed on 11-year-old Skylar Capo and her mom in June, after an agent happened to spot Skylar holding a baby woodpecker in her hands at a Lowes home improvement store in Fredericksburg, Va. Actually, Skylar had minutes before saved the woodpecker from […]

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Arkansas Time Machine In McGehee, a town of 4,200 in southeastern Arkansas, African-American student Kym Wimberly, who had finished first in her senior class, was named only “co-”valedictorian after officials at McGehee High changed the rules to avoid what one called a potential “big mess.” As a result, in an ironic twist on “affirmative action,” […]

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Modern times Berjuan Toys is already selling its Breast Milk Baby online ($70) and expects to have it in stores later this year. The doll works by the child-”mother” donning a halter top with flowers positioned as nipples, and when the baby comes into contact with the a flower, sensors mimic sucking sounds. Although dolls […]

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Fun Funerals For years, many traditional funerals in Taiwan — especially in rural areas or among working classes — have included pop singers and bikinied dancers, supposedly to entertain the ghosts that will protect the deceased in the afterlife. According to a recent documentary by anthropologist Marc Moskowitz, some of the dancers until 20 years […]