The picture shows a Zimbabwean carrying pile load of cash to buy something. Seems like a lot of money… but fact is the pile of cash is probably worth less than 100 US dollars.

Zimbabwe with inflation crisis
(Image via Xinhuanet)

Zimbabwe is suffering from an inflation crisis. The annual inflation in the African country has rocketed past the 100,000% barrier in Feb 2008, by far the highest in the world (2nd placed Iraq has an estimated inflation of 60%).

Zimbabwe’s currency has tumbled to a record low of 25 million Zimbabwe dollars to one US dollar. 100 US dollars could exchange for nearly 20kg of local currency.

Frankly, it’s hard to imagine how a country would manage to get themselves into the troubled situation. My countrymen would be crying like babies if our annual inflation rates reached 10%… 100,000% inflation? That’s unthinkable.


Graziano Cecchini, the guerilla artist who infamously turned Trevi Fountain into a red pool last October, has stroked again.

Cecchini released half a million of coloured plastic balls from the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome on Wednesday (Jan 16)… a prank similar to the famous Sony Bravia commercial.

Cecchini said that he had done the stunt to raise the profile of Burma and the Karen people. He and his three other ‘compatriots’ are later arrested.

The Karen is a minority who have fought for an independent state since 1949, and accuse the military junta of ethnic cleansing. [BBC]

Videos of Graziano Cecchini’s prank (left) and the Sony Bravia’s bouncing balls commercial

The 5th Simitli’s Festival of Masquerade Games was held on Jan 12, with 1500 participants parading in different kind of masks.

Festival of Masquerade Games in Simitli Festival of Masquerade Games in Simitli
Festival of Masquerade Games in Simitli Festival of Masquerade Games in Simitli
Weird mask and costumes at Festival of Masquerade Games in Simitli (Image courtesy of Xinhuanet)

Masquerade games are popular in Bulgaria and the Balkan region, with people celebrating (and competing) the events in ancient Thracians (and other cultural) costumes. The largest event of its kind is The International Festival of Masquerade Games, which is held in the town of Pernik every even year in January.

Simitli is a small village at the south of Pernik; their masquerade games is relatively new and smaller than Pernik but gaining popularity for its more funky and bizarre masks and costumes.

The owner of a German company is being sued for unfair dismissal – after he fired three non-smoking workers and replaced them with smokers who ‘fitted in better’. [Metro]

They were sacked on the grounds that they would ‘interfere with corporate peace’, after they requested a smoke-free environment.

Thomas Jensen, the manager of the 10-person IT company in Buesum, told the Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper he had fired the trio because their non-smoking was causing disruptions.

Germany introduced non-smoking rules in pubs and restaurants on Jan. 1, but Germans working in small offices are still allowed to smoke.

“I can’t be bothered with trouble-makers,” Thomas was quoted saying.

“We’re on the phone all the time and it’s just easier to work while smoking. Everyone picks on smokers these days. It’s time for revenge. I’m only going to hire smokers from now on.”

The Italian army has been sent to bulldoze 100,000 tonnes of rubbish that has piled up in the streets of the southern city of Naples.

The government is to hold an emergency meeting to find a solution to the rubbish crisis. Naples dustmen stopped collecting rubbish two weeks ago. With nowhere to put it local people are forced to burn it. The fire brigade has been struggling to put out the fires.

Rubbish crisis in Naples, Italy Rubbish crisis in Naples, Italy
Rubbish crisis in Naples (Image courtesy of Xinhuanet)

Rubbish collection is a perennial problem which has plagued Naples and its politicians for some 15 years. The government is conscious it is under severe pressure to find a solution – but this means tackling the mob.

The Camorra, the Neapolitan version of the Mafia, has turned this into a hugely profitable business. They have sabotaged every effort to build hi-tech incinerators, so that Naples must rely on landfill sites, where they can hide the domestic and industrial waste, which they chuck in from all around the country.

Millions of tonnes of it have been dumped illegally in the sea or in the countryside, untreated and highly toxic. Doctors say cancer rates in Naples are much higher than the national average. [BBC]

I won’t be surprise if this kind of rubbish and health crisis is happening in a 3rd world country; it’s unthinkable that it is happening in Italy… the story is good enough to make into a movie.

Tokyo based venture firm FCOM (Fresh Functional Food Composite) Co. is creating new types of composite food by infusing one food into another.

Chocolate infused in strawberry by FCOM
Chocolate strawberry

One of their latest products is a strawberry infused with white chocolate. On the outside it’s an everyday garden-variety dried strawberry, but break the surface and it looks like the fruit contains white chocolate in its fibers.

The trick is to first freeze-dry the strawberry to remove the water, and then infuse the white chocolate into the spaces left behind. It gave it that extra taste without spoiling the strawberry’s original texture.

The company has hopes to take the technology further than creating hybrid food; their concept is that people can take supplements easily and deliciously. For example rice infused with various nutrients could be produced for seniors who can’t eat very much.

The company spokesman also added that the concept and technology could be adapted for fields like cosmetics and medicine. [Japantimes]

I want a chicken that taste like beef… I wonder how it would taste like.

Members of a Czech art group who hacked into television broadcasting with images of a hoax nuclear explosion were charged and will have to stand trial.

The six members of the Prague-based Ztohoven group were charged last month with spreading false information and face up to three years in jail if convicted, said Dusan Ondracek, the state prosecutor in the northern town of Trutnov, who is in charge of the case.

On June 17, viewers of a Czech television channel watching a Web cam program monitoring weather in various Czech mountain resorts could see a nuclear explosion taking place in the Krkonose or Giant Mountains in the northern Czech Republic. [CNN]

Video – hoax nuke blast seen on Czech TV

Toilet seat that reflects the heat status of the seat…

Thermo sensitive toilet seat Thermo sensitive toilet seat
Heat sensitive toilet seat… orange = cool… yellow = hot [Hat tip to CDR and Boingboing]

“Being able to identify a public toilet seat that has just been sat upon (and is thus still warm) is of particular concern to a significant number of the population. Without warning, one can easily sit upon a seat and be instantly repulsed by the trace evidence of a previous user. Conversely, if one is looking for intimate contact with an anonymous stranger without the associated awkwardness of verbal discourse, one could seek out the warm toilet seat. The decision to sit or not to sit is facilitated by the colour change of the seat: orange=cool, yellow=hot. The object retains the heat memory of a previous user and displays it as a visual marker for the next user to assess. [Plusminus]

I thought Japanese are the only people coming out with abnormal toilet stuff… I was wrong.

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