Friday, May 28, 2010

Two-year-old who smokes 40 cigarettes a day puffs away on a toy truck

Taking a deep drag on his cigarette while resting on the steering wheel of his truck, he looks like a parody of a middle-aged lorry driver.

But the image covers up a much more disturbing truth: At just the tender age of two, Ardi Rizal's health has been so ruined by his 40-a-day habit that he now struggles to move by himself.

The four-stone Indonesia toddler is certainly far too unfit to run around with other children - and his condition is set to rapidly deteriorate.

But, despite local officials' offer to buy the Rizal family a new car if the boy quits, his parents feel unable to stop him because he throws massive tantrums if they don't indulge him.

His mother, Diana, 26, wept: 'He's totally addicted. If he doesn't get cigarettes, he gets angry and screams and batters his head against the wall. He tells me he feels dizzy and sick.'

Ardi will smoke only one brand and his habit costs his parents £3.78 a day in Musi Banyuasin, in Indonesia's South Sumatra province.

But in spite of this, his fishmonger father Mohammed, 30, said: 'He looks pretty healthy to me. I don't see the problem.'

Ardi's youth is the extreme of a disturbing trend. Data from the Central Statistics Agency showed 25 per cent of Indonesian children aged three to 15 have tried cigarettes, with 3.2 per cent of those active smokers.

The percentage of five to nine year olds lighting up increased from 0.4 per cent in 2001 to 2.8 per cent in 2004, the agency reported.

A video of a four-year-old Indonesian boy blowing smoke rings appeared briefly on YouTube in March, prompting outrage before it was removed from the site.

Child advocates are speaking out about the health damage to children from second-hand smoke, and the growing pressure on them to smoke in a country where one-third of the population uses tobacco and single cigarettes can be bought for a few cents.

Seto Mulyadi, chairman of Indonesia's child protection commission, blames the increase on aggressive advertising and parents who are smokers.

'A law to protect children and passive smokers should be introduced immediately in this country,' he said.

A health law passed in 2009 formally recognizes that smoking is addictive, and an anti-smoking coalition is pushing for tighter restrictions on smoking in public places, advertising bans and bigger health warnings on cigarette packages.

But a bill on tobacco control has been stalled because of opposition from the tobacco industry.

The bill would ban cigarette advertising and sponsorship, prohibit smoking in public, and add graphic images to packaging.

Benny Wahyudi, a senior official at the Industry Ministry, said the government had initiated a plan to try to limit the number of smokers, including dropping production to 240 billion cigarettes this year, from 245 billion in 2009.

'The government is aware of the impact of smoking on health and has taken efforts, including lowering cigarette production, increasing its tax and limiting smoking areas,' he said.

Mr Mulyadi said a ban on advertising is key to putting the brakes on child and teen smoking.

'If cigarette advertising is not banned, there will be more kids whose lives are threatened because of smoking,' he said.

Ubiquitous advertising hit a bump last month when a cigarette company was forced to withdraw its sponsorship of pop star Kelly Clarkson's concert following protests from fans and anti-tobacco groups.
However, imposing a non-smoking message will be difficult in Indonesia, the world's third-largest tobacco consumer.

Tubagus Haryo Karbyanto, a member of the National Commission of Tobacco Control, said Indonesia must also address the social conditions that lead to smoking, such as family influence and peer pressure.

'The promotion of health has to be integrated down to the smallest units in our society, from public health centres and local health care centres to the family,' he was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Globe on Friday.

Health Minister Endang Sedyaningsih conceded turning young people off smoking will be difficult in a country where it is perceived as positive because cigarette companies sponsor everything from scholarships to sporting events.

'This is the challenge we face in protecting youth from the dangers of smoking,' she said in a statement on the ministry's website.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bizarre and Bad Twisted Toys

Something went terribly wrong in the Toytown...

Nightmarish, deeply disturbing and bizarre toys can still be found in this world, lurking just around the corner to haunt unsuspecting children... Some people even pay money to get these products.

Continuing the series of Dolls and Toys that Creep Us Out, here is another bunch of toys to steer clear of - or on the contrary, deliberately seek them out for a nifty collection.

But first, let us celebrate creativity, and start with some neat stuff:

Wonderfully Twisted Toys

These are toys that we actually like, and will gladly add to our roster of curiosities... we may even play with them to unwind after work.

Crazy steampunk rabbit - "Woppit & Hare Clockwork Enigma" - made by Doctor A. using the customized "labbit" evil toy from Kid Robot.

Artists from Kidrobot display endless creativity in coming up with nameless monsters and kinky apparitions. Check out their catalog - here are some examples:

These balloons clearly suffer from bad design:
Hipsters' most favorite teddy bear (with all these accessories in the set, what do they need the bear for?):

For the curious kids and adults alike, there is a sci-fi styled "womb" with a developing clone inside:
Strange praying nuns (meant for bowling?)
Wonderful site Weird Toys is full of that stuff:
Not a toy! "Back to School"... solutions?! -
For really gruesome baby toys, head over here.

From Bizarre to Gruesome, to Obscene?

You think, there is nothing wrong with this rocking horse? Think again! This horse is a dead real horse, "Rocking Horse Winner" - a sculpture made from taxidermed horse, tack, wood, and rug (made by Kathrine Worel):

However, Doctor A. makes the most intense steampunkish toys - check out his site and his line up of "Mechtorians" toys!
"An Alien Clone Baby" is presented by Martin Dolan. For the grown-ups he's got a very cool deskphone, made from a spade!.. mostly (see image below right):

Like they say, this horse "activates the threshold between wonder and horror". It can be forever (undead) yours, for the price of $50,000.

Brilliant ideas:
Speaking about dogs, here is a jigsaw puzzle:

Plush Cthulhu and microbes. Get them here:

Well... in our opinion, any ugly and scary toy is better than games some families play (or played in the 1950s):
And finally, a mystery animal toy (how would you call it?) -

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Top 10 Bizarre Medical Treatments

Full Face Transplant
Most plastic surgery procedures are brief affairs, with cheek dimples taking ten minutes and a face lift taking anywhere from two to five hours. What then of a procedure that takes a full day? In an act of real life photoshopping, a team of thirty surgeons toiled for 24 hours to perform the unlikely task of giving a man a new face. Although partial transplants have been performed before and a near-total transplant was successfully performed on a woman in Cleveland, this procedure — performed at the Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Barcelona — is the first to involve a full face. So does this mean the world will start seeing carbon copies of famous celebrities? Nope. To qualify for the procedure, you need an actual replacement face. In this instance the visage was conferred, jawbone and all, by an unspecified donor.

Bloodletting (phlebotomy)
Bloodletting — the practice of withdrawing often copious amounts of blood — was widely practiced during medieval times as a panacea for everything from the black plague to acne. Offering a trim and a trickle, a barber surgeon was the go to guy for all your bloodletting needs. (The red stripe on a barber's pole finds its origins in the profession's bloodletting past.) Medieval bloodletting methods ranged from fire cupping to simply puncturing an artery. By the 19th century, one particularly menacing contraption called the scarifacator came into vogue. Today, therapeutic phlebotomies are performed (albeit through a gentler procedure involving a syringe) to treat hemochromatosis, a condition where a person absorbs too much iron.

Medicinal Leeches
Another blast from Europe's medieval medical past are medicinal leeches. Similar to bloodletting, leeches were utilized to draw out the "bad blood" that medieval physicians believed caused many of their patients' ailments. In modern medicine, however, leeches are used in reconstructive surgery to provide a vacuum effect that helps stimulate blood circulation. This process is crucial to help kick start blood flow into, for example, a reattached finger.

Distraction Osteogenesis
For the vertically challenged, overcoming a height deficit may involve wearing elevator shoes, walking around with a Chihuahua or a combination of both. Then again, you could have your legs broken. In a process called distraction osteogenesis — pioneered by the Soviet physician Gavriil Ilizarov in the 1950s — the cortex, or outermost shell, of a bone is fractured and then artificially stretched using metal braces. New bone then grows from both ends of the fracture to fill in the cavity, while the braces are continuously adjusted to slowly stretch the fracture further apart. This cycle of bone growth and stretching is repeated until the desired length is reached. The procedure is typically used to correct bone birth defects or, for some, to add an inch to their height.

Maggot Debridement Therapy
You may one day depend on this bug to save you from an even greater one. Maggot debridement therapy involves placing disinfected maggots (fly larvae) onto open wounds. The maggots efficiently eat up any necrotic tissue present, while leaving alone live healthy tissue. They also disinfect the wound by killing any harmful bacteria present. The therapy was commonly used in the 1930s and 1940s, but began to lose popularity following the advent of penicillin. However, with the emergence of antibiotic resistant "superbugs" such as MRSA, maggots are once again on the front lines, leaving no dead tissue behind.

Human Breast Milk
Would you like your chemotherapy with a glass of breast milk? Cancer combatants took notice in 2009 of the story about a father who drank his daughter's breast milk as a means of combating his own cancer. Ruled as a "highly alternative" treatment at the time, a new study out by researchers at the Lund University and the University of Gothenburg (both in Sweden) suggest that breast milk may possibly kill cancer cells. A substance known as HAMLET (human Alpha-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells), found in human breast milk, appears to trigger their death, though scientists are still unsure of why exactly that is the case.

Cryogenic Chamber Therapy
Cryogenic Chamber Therapy is the solution for those who fancy chilling out like Ted Williams without first having to go through the unsavory process of dying. Patients wearing nothing but a bathing suit are enclosed in a chamber cooled — usually with liquid nitrogen — to as much as -150°C (-238°F) for two to four minutes. This shocks the body into releasing endorphins (the body's natural pain reliever) and helps those who suffer from conditions such as fibromyalgia suppress their pain. The process has also been used by athletes as a method of rehabilitation, bringing a whole new meaning to icing down injuries.

While astronauts may drink recycled urine out of necessity, some down on earth drink the unadulterated stuff as a homeopathic cure. Proponents of this alternative treatment claim that urine contains antibodies that can help the body stave off everything from cancer to AIDS. With no thorough scientific studies on the theory, however, organizations such as the American Cancer Society do not take a firm position on the treatment.

Tiger Phallus Soup
Some people in Asian countries are guilty of taking "you are what you eat" too literally. For thousands of years, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have imbibed everything from snakes steeped in rice wine for a boost in vitality to eating a bear's paw for a dose of ursine strength. However, one of the most, uh, exotic examples, of this practice is the consumption of a male tiger's dried phallus boiled in soup for virility. Although the international trade of tiger parts has been banned since 1987, poaching still occurs to feed the black market's appetite for the great cat. With less than 3,200 tigers remaining in the wild according to the World Wildlife Fund, perhaps men with libido problems should just change their names to Tiger instead.

Pearl Powder
There's wearing pearls and then there's wearing pearls. Applied in either a powder or a cream form, crushed pearls are used in traditional Chinese medicine as a skin care agent. And applying pearls now might delay your eventual appointment with the pearly gates. Practitioners claim that the treatment not only cures acne, but also prolongs life expectancy and has anti-aging attributes.

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