Archive for the ‘Did You Know?’ Category

Lay-Flat-Office-Chair

Some days work can make you feel like you’ve lost your creativity. Recently, I’ve coached a client that use  the phrase “my work has sucked all the juices out of me.” Now this isn’t an awesome feeling as you can see and when you are not true to yourself, to your unique God-given characteristics, you also lose the power of authenticity, creativity, imagination, and innovation. Your life becomes performance-based, setting the stage for compromise in all other areas of our lives.

How can you get the creative juices flowing again?

5 Ways to Unlock Your Creativity:
  • You need to “sit” longer.
  • Get away from your normal routine.
  • Go for a long walk, exercise more (Our physical health has a direct relationship to the energy and creativity we bring to our work.)
  • Take an art (woodworking, sculpture, gardening) class
  • Put yourself around people who are high performers.

Andrew Carnegie would go into an empty room for hours at a time, not allowing any interruptions, as he was “sitting for ideas.”

Henry Ford once said he didn’t want executives who had to work all the time. He insisted that those who were always in a flurry of activity at their desks were not being the most productive. He wanted people who would clear their desks, prop their feet up and dream some fresh dreams. His philosophy was that only he who has the luxury of time can originate a creative thought.

Amazing! When’s the last time the Ceo of the company told you to quit working and do more dreaming? Unfortunately, our culture glamorizes being under time pressure. Having too much to do with too little time is a badge of “success.” Or is it?

Thomas Edison would go down to the water’s edge each morning, throw out his line – with no bait – and then watch the bobber for an hour until his thinking was ready for the day. Without long walks, an hour here and there of bush hogging, tinkering with my cars, or playing with a grandchild, my writing to bring inspiration to others would very quickly be reduced to dry theories and lifeless words.

If you are feeling stuck, your solution may not be in doing more, but in taking a break from the “busyness” of life. Want to be more productive — try doing less. Go “sit” somewhere for a while!”

Also, know that creativity is not a function of intelligence; rather it is a function of imagination.

Question: How will you get the creative juices flowing again in your life?

The era of discovery has ended.  We’ve charted every corner of the planet, explored its deepest jungles and its highest mountains and, with each year, it becomes more abundantly clear that there just aren’t any freaking dragons out there, man.  I think we’ve been cheated!

Though to be fair, we did find a handful of new and real animals in the process, some even as recently as this year.  Unfortunately, none of them breathe fire and soar majestically in the sky above, terrorizing local villages, but many of these newly uncovered animals are still pretty gosh darn amazing. Take for example…

10.  The “Horror” Wasp

horror-wasp

Discovered in: 2011

The above monstrosity was officially discovered during an expedition to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, but it has been observed before… in the nightmares of the criminally insane.  The specimen in the picture is a male of the newly-classified Megalara Garuda species of wasp, named after the mythical half-man, half-bird warrior Garuda, the national symbol of Indonesia.  It’s also known as the “King of Wasps,” “Warrior Wasp” or the “Komodo Dragon of the Wasp Family.”  Personally I like to call it “the definite proof that, yes, Satan does exist and he’s coming for all of us.”

It’s not simply the fact that the Garuda wasp reaches 2.5” in length or the fact that its powerful jaws are so huge they wrap around its head while closed and are longer than the bug’s legs while opened.  All of that is definitely a huge part of this insect’s horror-tude, but what really gets me is the fact that scientists speculate that the wasp evolved those powerful jaws to hold the females down while it does its dirty business to them.  So, basically, it’s a flying monster rapist.

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9.  The “Ninja” Frog

ninja-frog

Discovered in: 2011

Take a look at this frog.  Is it any different than every single frog you’ve ever seen?  Does it make you rethink your preconceptions about the very idea of “discovery”?  Do you even care?  If you answered “no” to the previous questions, then congrats; you are not one of the researchers who have tested the DNA of the above frog and discovered that it’s a totally new species…which lives in New York.

Yes, it turns out that a totally new species of amphibians was hiding underneath our noses this entire time.  It all started when a very bored, or possibly very crazy, person noticed that “leopard frogs” from around Staten Island and the Bronx had a sort of different croak than the rest of their brethren.  A few tests later and viola, scientists were ready to call the little hopping bastard a new species. Currently they are studying the frogs further to properly name them but, given their incredibly unlikely habitat in which they survived God knows how long, I propose we name them “F***ing Miracle Frogs.”  That or the “New Croak Knicks,” I haven’t made up my mind.

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8.  The “Micro” Chameleon

micro-chameleon

Discovered in: 2012

No, the picture you’re seeing is neither Photoshopped nor manipulated in any way.  It is, however, adorable.  The Little Reptile That Could up there is a species of chameleon named Brookesia micra, and it was discovered on the island of Madagascar just this year.  It is currently the smallest known chameleon in the world – measuring at just 0.63 inches without the tail, small enough to stand comfortably atop of a match head.  Its small size is probably due to insular dwarfism, i.e. what happens when an animal reproduces in an environment with limited food or a large number of predators.

Unfortunately, their most dangerous predator today might be that crafty sonamagun known as Man, who threatens the micro chameleons’ habitat with illegal logging.  I propose we save the species by starting an aggressive campaign that will popularize these reptiles as pets.  We can keep them by the hundreds in huge terrariums, and pretend it’s a real-life version of SimCity.

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7.  The “Joker” Crab

joker-crab

Discovered in: 2012

The Filipino island of Palawan is a beautiful place full of enchanting beaches and majestic animals, but to zoologists it’s known simply as “JACKPOT! *cha-ching cha-ching cha-ching*”

About half of all the species found on the island cannot be found anywhere else on the planet, including the above stylish crab, scientific name Insulamon palawanese.  Obviously it has earned its place on the list by bearing a slight resemblance to the comic book supervillain Joker (why yes, my virginity is doing great, thanks for asking) but there were also other factors involved, like how we’ve just discovered the damned thing and it’s already endangered due to mining projects going on at Palawan. I’m still undecided whether that’s ironic or just really, really sad (maybe both).

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6.  The “Crime-Fighting” Gecko

superhero-gecko

Discovered in: 2011

While we’re on the subject of newly discovered animals which sort of resemble comic book characters (aren’t you tired of constantly hearing about those?), take a look at this newly discovered species of gecko from Vietnam.

The Cnemaspis psychedelica gecko, or “Psychedelic Gecko” is currently found only on the small island of Hon Khoai and so named because of its bright orange coloration.  But when you think “psychedelic” do you think about sorta-bright orange and dull, pastel purple?  Of course not.  And because the gecko’s orange spots totally look like superhero gloves and boots, I still say my name for it is way better than what the so called “scientists” came up with.  I should do this animal-naming thing professionally.  Someone get me the number of the president of Animal Science!

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5.  The “Stabbing” Shark

stabbing-shark

Discovered in: 2011

A combination of both shark and saw must be the greatest example of overkill since the shrapnel A-bomb, and yet sawsharks are a thing that ACTUALLY EXISTS.  Fortunately, Mother Earth had a smidgen of consideration for humans who might want to, one day, feel safe enough to actually go into the water, so she made sure there weren’t that many sawsharks around to begin with…or so we thought.

In 2011, the African Dwarf Sawshark (Pristiophorus nancyae) pictured above was accidentally captured in a 1600-foot-deep trawling net off the coast of Mozambique, bringing the total number of sawshark species worldwide to seven.  Man, I could have handled six of those monsters but seven is… just wrong for some reason.

Here’s a funny thing about the shark – due to its small size and aggressiveness it’s basically the Joe Pesci of the fish world.  It usually hunts by blindly charging into schools of fish, stabbing a few at random with its sword nose, and then returning to feast on the casualties.  Wait, did I say “funny”?  I, of course, meant “terrifying.”

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4.  The “Yoda” Bat

yoda-bat

Discovered in: 2009

They say we’re living in the Age of the Geek, and there’s no better proof of that than the fact women no longer mace me in the face when I tell them I have a comic book collection.  The second best proof of this modern trend is the fact that serious journalists worldwide saw the above picture of a flying orc rat and their minds immediately went to Star Wars.  Thus – the Yoda Bat, a name I seriously did not make up.

This little guy is actually called a tube-nosed fruit bat, and he was discovered in the secluded forests of Papua New Guinea.  The new species doesn’t have a name yet and it’s unlikely that real scientists—i.e. people  who didn’t piddle away their childhoods, adolescent years and adulthood obsessing over pop culture—will cave and actually name it the Yoda Bat.  Seriously, Yoda was green, people.  Come on!

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3.  The “Yeti” Crab

furry-lobster

Discovered in: 2005

Often mistakenly referred to as the “furry lobster” (a name which, no matter how hard I try to reason with myself, sounds incredibly dirty) the “Yeti crab”, or Kiwa hirsute, is named so for its silky blonde hair-like thingies growing on the crustaceans claws.

Although it definitely looks freaky, the “Yeti” crab might possibly be one of the more complex crustaceans we’ve ever encountered.  See, some scientists believe that the crab might actually “farm” certain types of bacteria on its hairy pincers and then either use them to detoxify dangerous minerals from the deep-sea waters it inhabits, or eat them.  That’s right, we’re possibly dealing with a scientifically-inclined “mutant” member of a previously unremarkable species, which is also covered in hair.  Basically, in keeping with the total-nerd theme we seem to be establishing in this article, this is the crab version of Beast from X-Men.

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2.  The “Matilda” Viper

matildas-viper

Discovered in: 2010

Matilda’s Horned Viper is one the few new snakes discovered in Africa (Tanzania in this case) in the last 30 years, which is weird considering that it totally looks like a cartoon character.

The yellow-green-black slithering bastard with two horns protruding from its head can grow up to 65 centimeters or bigger, and is believed to be venomous.  Considering that it resembles a pet which Satan would keep in a locked, underwater safe, I’d say that’s a pretty accurate guess by the researchers who’ve discovered it, though there are many ways to make absolutely sure. Did you know that homeless people are REALLY desperate for cash?

Scientists do claim that the snake is very calm and not at all aggressive.  This calms me down none; it simply proves that it this thing is both murderous AND crafty.

But the weirdest part of this newly discovered animal is that it’s been named…after a 7-year-old girl named Matilda.  No, thankfully the girl wasn’t its first documented victim, but rather the daughter of one of the researchers who discovered the snake.  I’d say that naming a scaly, slimy, horny snake after a small girl isn’t really the best idea, but hey, the guy’s already named his daughter “Matilda.”  Not like he was parent of the year material anyway.

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1.  The “Michael Jackson” Monkey

michael-jackson-monkey

Discovered in: 2010

The Myanmar Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri) isn’t totally a new species, as it’s been known by some Myanmar locals for some time now, but unless it’s discovered, climbed or invented by a white guy, it apparently doesn’t count.  Snub-nosed monkeys aren’t exactly unknown to science, but apparently no species before ever came close to anything like Snubby over here.  His nose is so snubbed it doesn’t even deserve that name.  Incidentally, it also causes the monkey to sneeze uncontrollably whenever it rains.

If you’ve thought that that last part was adorable just stop reading now, cause it’s going to get pretty sad soon.  Seriously, go.  No?  OK then.  The first contact on records that scientists had with the Myanmar Snub-nosed Monkey came from examining the skull and skin of a gutted male of the species… which was eaten by hunters.  Unfortunately, the local demand for monkey meat is one of the main reasons why this newly discovered funky monkey is already considered endangered – it apparently tastes THAT good.  And after evolution went to all that trouble to make it look as unappetizing as possible…

The “natural flavors” label is quite intriguing.  It is considered a way of protecting the secret formula/recipe, a way of preserving the product’s uniqueness.  Would you expect regurgitated secretions produced in an animal’s digestive system to be approved by the FDA as food additives?  The secretion produced by the beaver’s sacs and civet absolute (derived from the unctuous secretions from the receptacles between the anus and genitalia of both the male and female civet cat”, according to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives; delish) are other gross ingredients found in food. Watch out for those natural flavorings & flavors!

Lanolin is secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals.  Believe it or not, it is used to soften chewing gum.

Sugar itself doesn’t contain animal ingredients, but most companies use bone char (animal charcoal) in filters to decolorize sugar.  According to regulatory bodies, the bones are required to come from cattle that have died of natural causes.  Countries like Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, India and Morocco are main suppliers.

What you are actually consuming and paying for, may be surprising.

10.  Silicon Dioxide

silicon-dioxide

Oxygen (46.6%), silicon (27.7%) and aluminum (8%) are the first three most abundant elements in the earth’s crust.  Crystalline forms of silica include quartz, cristobalite and tridymite.  Silicon dioxide is the main chemical compound of sand.

This element raises concern when it is used as an additive.  Amorphous silicon dioxide (E551 in Europe) is one of the most important anti-caking agents.  The FDA allows the use of SiO2 and considers it safe, as long as it doesn’t exceed 2% of the food’s weight. You can find it in everything from processed meat, spice powders, instant soups & sauces, snack bars, supplements, pharmaceutical drug tablets and more.

Silica, short for silicon dioxide, is beneficial to our body in several ways, but the body needs a very small amount of it to stay healthy.  Is it dangerous to add silicon dioxide to food? Probably not, since its toxicity level is often very low.  Is it disgusting and unusual?  Yes, it’s down-right disgusting if you’re asking me.

9.  Borax

Borax-is-King

Discovered over 4,000 years ago, borax is also known as birax, sodium borate, or sodium tetra-borate, and is usually found deep underground.

Sodium borate is a crystalline compound that is the sodium salt of boric acid.  The term borax is widely used to refer both to a miracle mineral, and to a refined compound with countless applications.  Borax is king indeed, just like the above ad states.  The mineral keeps mice, bugs, ants and mold away.  It is used as a multipurpose cleaner, fire retardant, fungicide, herbicide and…food preservative.  Borax is banned as a food additive (E285) in the United States, but it is allowed in imported caviar.  E285 is legal in the European Union and Asia.  Borax is also used in the textiles, glass and leather industry for tanning and dyeing.  Is there anything borax can’t do?

8.  Gelatin

gelatin-bone-slime

The flavorless and translucent substance may be used as a stabilizer, texture enhancer, or thickening agent in foods.  The active element of gelatin is the collagen obtained from various animal parts.  According to Professor M.C. Gomez-Guillén, “the most abundant sources of gelatin are pig skin (46%), bovine hide (29.4%) and pork and cattle bones (23.1%).”

7.  Shellac

shellac-candy-coating

Shellac is obtained by refining the secretions of the Kerria lacca insects.  Native to South-East Asia, the insects reside in colonies of thousands on trees such as Kusum, Ficus, Palas, and Ber.  It takes approximately 300,000 lac bugs to produce a one-kilogram sack of shellac.

Shellac is unrivalled when it comes to furniture polishing and wood finishing.  It is used in almost every industry, including food and pharmaceutical processing.  The same product that is utilized for coating furniture is used also for coating fruits, vegetables (shellac replaces the natural wax that is lost), candies, snacks, and pastries, to make them look fresher and more appealing.

6.  Carmine

carmine-beetle

You may have recently heard that Starbucks decided to stop using carmine as colorant. No more insect-derived coloring in the Strawberry Banana Smoothie, Strawberries & Cream Frappuccino, or Red Velvet Whoopie Pie!

Carmine is obtained from female cochineal insects.  After the bugs are killed by immersion in hot water, or exposure to heat, and then dried, their abdomen is extracted and cooked at high temperatures (it contains the most carmine).

If one of the following terms – carmine, cochineal extract, natural red 4, E120, C.I. 75470, E120 or hydrated aluminium chelate of carminic acid – appears in the ingredients list, the red bug dye is in your food.

The cochineal extract is added to everything from meat to marinades, juices, jams, gelatins and candies, baked goods, toppings, icings, and dairy products.

5.  Human Hair And Duck Feathers

hair-in-food

L-cysteine is a common flavor enhancer and dough conditioner used in bakery products (pizza, crackers, bagels, bread, croissants and donuts, to name a few).  While some L-cysteine is chemically synthesized in labs, most of this non-essential amino acid is extracted from human hair or duck feathers.

Industry experts claim most human-derived L-cysteine comes from Chinese women, who sell it to chemical plants to support their families.

Many L-cysteine manufacturers seem to have moved away from the disgusting hair-derived substance, and on to the far-more-appetizing duck feathers.

McDonald’s confirmed some months ago that, as of last August, it has stopped using ammonia-based pink slime in the production of its burgers.  What about the duck feather-derived L-cysteine used in its pies and rolls?  McDonald’s confirmed that it uses L-cysteine made only from duck feathers, so there’s no human hair to worry about.  Gee, what a relief…

4.  Cellulose

cellulose-in-chocolate-drink

Cellulose comes in a variety of forms – powdered cellulose (E460ii), microcrystalline cellulose (MCC or E460i) or cellulose gum – each with a specific use.  The odorless and tasteless powdered cellulose is sourced from either bamboo or cotton-based plant material.  Often labeled as high-fiber or reduced fat, the “miracle” ingredient may be used in the following foods: cheese, yogurt, ice cream, processed fruits, vegetables, cereals, pre-cooked pasta, and bakery wares.  See here for more details.

Dan Inman, director of R&D at J. Rettenmaier USA, said that manufacturers add cellulose to their products because it acts as an extender, reducing breakage and providing structure.  Food producers from all over the world save almost 30% in ingredient costs by going for cellulose as a filler or thickener.  Powdered cellulose can replace as much as 50% of the fat in some biscuits, cakes and cookies.

Sara Lee, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, Dole, KFC, Nestle and Kraft Foods are some of the many brands that put wood in our food.  Safe or not, it’s disturbingly unnatural to have cellulose in aliments. No wonder food doesn’t taste anymore as it used to.

3.  Castoreum, Civet

fda-chart

The same substance that beavers naturally secrete to mark their territories, gives flavor (?!) to certain foods.  Castoreum is a bitter, strongly odoriferous secretion, produced by the animal’s sacs.  These sacs are located by the anal glands.

According to an article published in the International Journal of Toxicology, castoreum has been used extensively in cosmetics, especially in perfumes, and has been added to food and beverages as a natural flavoring agent for at least 70 years.  Castoreum is generally recognized as safe by the FDA, FEMA and other regulatory bodies, and is especially useful as an ingredient in raspberry & vanilla flavored foods.  You may find it in ice creams, candies, syrups, pastries, and cigarettes.

The gross part is that castoreum doesn’t have to be listed on the label by its name because it is considered a natural flavor.  Apparently, beaver-butt tastes like vanilla and raspberry.  Eat up!

beavers-anal-glands

A Beaver’s Anal Glands…yummy!

Ambergris, civet and musk are other disgusting animal-derived ingredients.

Civet (zibetum, zibet) is secreted by the civet cat’s perianal scent glands and is a common ingredient of frozen dairy desserts, baked goods, candies, puddings or gelatins.

2.  Insect Filth, Mold, Rodent Filth, Maggots

maggots-in-food

The US Food and Drug Administration condones a certain percentage of natural contaminants in the food supply chain.  Here’s how many of these yummy-nummies to expect in your food:

All spice, ground: average of 30 or more insect fragments / 10g; 1 or more rodent hairs / 10g

Berries: average mold count is 60% or more; average of 4 or more larvae per 500 g; 10 or more whole insects or equivalent per 500 g.

Frozen broccoli: 60 or more aphids and/or thrips and/or mites per 100 g.

Chocolate: 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams; 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams; (when six 100-gram subsamples are examined)

Macaroni and noodle products: 225 insect fragments or more / 225g

Canned and dried mushrooms: 20 or more maggots of any size / 100g; 75 mites / 100g

Peanut butter: 30 or more insect fragments / 100g; 1 or more rodent hairs / 100g

Tomato juice: 10 or more fly eggs / 100g; 5 or more fly eggs and 1 or more maggots / 100g; average mold count in 6 subsamples is 24%.

Tomato paste: 30 or more fly eggs / 100g; 15 or more fly eggs and 1 or more maggots / 100g; 2 or more maggots /100g in a minimum of 12 subsamples.

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Some products may have natural contaminants, others not.  Unfortunately, the European Union does not regulate the amount of filth or mold in food; it has explicitly exempted the above listed “ingredients” from regulation.

Don’t misunderstand me, entomophagy is not gross.  The benefits of eating insects are overwhelming, but there’s a very big difference between eating processed remnants of bugs and rats, and consuming healthy & edible insects that are rich in proteins, minerals and vitamins.

1.  The First Approval Of Viruses As A Food Additive

bacteria-viruses-in-food

The Food and Drug Administration approved, six years ago, a cocktail of bacteria-killing viruses to prevent listeriosis.  There are about 1600 cases of listeriosis, with 410 deaths per year in the United States.

The special viruses (bacteriophages) are sprayed on poultry products and ready-to-eat meat just before they are packaged.  What will happen when listeria develops resistance to the bacteriophages over time?  These viral additives are used to fight potential infections from poor quality meat.  Why expose millions of individuals to unnecessary risk for the benefit of so few?

What food safety authorities should really do is raise the standards and improve the quality of our food supply. What’s your opinion on the latest food additive?

In these trying economic times, people are getting more and more creative in their efforts to scrounge together some extra cash. Notice we said “creative” and not “sane.”

10.  Being Really, Really Good at World of Warcraft

world-of-warcraft-gold

Though difficult, the theory behind turning “I play video games a lot” into a “I have a lucrative career” is almost disappointing in its simplicity: players amass huge amounts of Gold (in-game currency), and then strike up deals with people to exchange the Gold for real-life money, sometimes through a Paypal account and sometimes with their own websites. Since some of the most fun parts of the game (buying sweet weapons anddragons to ride on) cost massive amounts of Gold and, since WoW players are already used to paying for their fun (a subscription costs $15 a month), finding buyers isn’t that hard.

An alternative is character building, where players will get a character to “Max Level” and then sell that character to other players. “Max Level” is considered by many to be the true start of the game, with the first few hundred hours of play nothing but tedious grinding. If your response to this is “doesn’t the ruin the point of the game?” then congratulations on being a totally smug jerk. Also yes, it does.

Though to be fair, we should mention that all of the above violates the agreed-upon terms of service for World of Warcraft, making it effectively illegal. However, Blizzard Entertainment’s new game, Diablo 3, features a built-in auction house that works with real money.

9.  Begging for a High-Paying Job on the Street

job-search-on-the-street

While some people were surprised to see a well-dressed man wandering around Denver asking random people on the street for a job, this strategy has proven itself successful on a few occasions. One Occupy Wall Street protester simply changed her sign from “Go to Hell, 1%” to “Hire Me Please, 1%” and got a job almost immediately (she also had a PhD in Biochemistry, so you Philosophy majors need not bother trying this).

She’s not alone. Dianez Smith tried the same thing, holding a sign on the side of a packed street during rush hour in Washington DC, and managed to pick up a job as a legal assistant in a law firm.

Holding a sign and waiting for someone to notice is the low-tech version of Monster.com, so this makes more sense than you might realize. Plus, hiring someone off the street is a great PR move for a major company looking to reconnect with the plebeians.

8.  Going to Prison

one-dollar-bank-robber

In June of 2011, James Verone walked into a bank, handed the teller a piece of paper saying “I’m robbing the bank, please give me $1″, sat down, and calmly waited for the police. At 59 years old, recently laid off, and diagnosed with a potentially fatal growth in his heart, getting arrested was his only option: as wards of the state, prisoners are more entitled to free healthcare than poor people.

The big-house also provides plenty of opportunities for people who are looking for a chance to exploit the system. This guy amassed $1,200 in change by exploiting a glitch in the phone system — a sum he promptly spent on bail.

7.  Selling Sperm and Eggs

sperm-and-egg-banks

For guys, this pretty much amounts to pocket change — depending on your height, education, fitness and sperm motility, you can make anywhere from $1 to $200 a shot. Enough to keep your cellphone ringing, but depending on who you are, maybe not enough of a consolation for the knowledge that there’s up to ten little versions of you running around out there.

Women, however, are compensated noticeably better — depending on their education and fitness, they can make upwards of several thousand dollars for donating their eggs. But keep in mind that donating eggs amounts to more than just hiding in a room with a magazine for a few minutes. Donating eggs is an invasive medical procedure involving things we probably shouldn’t talk about. This is a family site, after all.

6.  Pretending to Be Homeless

fake-panhandler

To be 100% clear, TopTenz is not saying that homeless people are rich or scamming you. The vast, vast majority are hungry, sick, without shelter, and a heartbreaking number of them are children. If you have a soul and some money to donate, the National Coalition for the Homeless are the people to give to.

But if you’re less a philanthropist and more a, say, con-artist, panhandling on the street can be a great way to make money. In England, there are people making up to 20,000 pounds (over $32,000) a year. In Oregon, one person was caught making $300 a day — that’s over $100,000 a year. Tax free.

The difference is basically resources: if you find yourself homeless, it’s frequently due to a lack of standard job-finding and personal interaction skills — the same things that make panhandling difficult. Statistically speaking, the person you see asking you for money on the street probably is homeless, and if you’re not going to give them money you should still take the time to acknowledge them. Because they’re people.

5.  Diddling With Your SmartPhone

smartphone-apps-that-pay

As the I’m-Desperate-For-Cash-But-Still-Fork-Over-$100-A-Month-For-My-SmartPhone’s-Data-Plan economic niche continues to grow, so do the opportunities tailored just for them. Check out these smartphone apps — all designed to give you, the smartphone wielding hipster, the opportunity to line your pockets with crisp $1 bills.

The system is pretty straightforward: one app pays you to visit restaurants and snap pictures of the exterior, the menu, or noticing roadblocks. Another pays you to snap pictures of yourself holding or using products, or standing in front of restaurants. Another pays you just for reviewing other apps.

So next time you’re on the bus and have that moment where you realize that everyone but you is playing with their smartphone, remember that at least one of them might technically be at work.

4.  Begging For Money on the Internet

save-karyn

Unlike the other examples, this isn’t a trend — just one story. But there’s no reason it couldn’t work for a lot of people.

In 2002, Karyn Bosnak was a thirty-year-old talk show producer living in New York. Due to her uncontrollable spending habits, she ran up $20,000 in credit card debt, as well as being a not-very-good producer with an obnoxious and unnecessary “y” in her name, she lost her job and found herself unable to pay it back.

Until June of 2002, when Karyn started SaveKaryn.com, in which she just straight up asked strangers for money. The site read:

“WANTED: $20,000. CREDIT CARDS ARE BAD. Hello! My name is Karyn, I’m really nice and I’m asking for your help! You see, I have this huge credit card debt and I need $20,000 to pay it off. So if you have an extra buck or two, please send it my way… Together we can banish credit card debt from my life.”

In twenty weeks, she was debt-free — entirely thanks to donations. We dunno what this says about society (try doing this as someone other than a pretty white girl) but hey, whatever works, right?

3.  Selling Stupid Stuff on the Internet

clump-of-dirt

Photo Courtesy of BigStock

Items titled “Ghost in a Jar” and “Britney Spears‘ Chewing Gum” have all fetched a pretty penny on eBay, but those are just one-offs. The real amazing stories are people who managed to build a career out of selling the same stupid thing over and over again — like Irishman Pat Burke did with dirt.

To be fair, it is Irish dirt, which is rumored to be the best dirt on Earth (Editor’s Note: is that actually a rumor, or something you made up, just now?). One guy in Massachusetts spent $148,000 on dirt to build his house on. hey, you never know. Jimmy Hoffa or DB Cooper could be buried in that dirt, and selling off their mummified corpses would net you at least a bajillion trillion dollars.  Dead mobster dirt pays for itself!

But at least Pat is selling an actual thing. Allow us to present to you the Million Dollar Homepage — a blank website with a million pixels where each pixel was for sale for $1. It was launched by Alex Tew, a 21-year-old from Wiltshire who was trying to pay for his business management classes.

The final product is a strangely haunting mishmash of commercials and insanity that managed to pay for Tew’s business school, and provide the internet with something that it can’t look away from. He created a space that had no value except the value he gave it, and charged you to enter. And then everyone paid.

2.  Life Coaching

life-coach

The newest fad sweeping the weirdest parts of the world is “Life Coaching.” It’s pretty much every jerk’s dream job: you tell people what to do, and they do it. That’s it — no necessary qualifications, no extra responsibilities, no accountability. You just give advice and get paid.

As if that weren’t easy enough, you aren’t even required to come up with the advice. In fact, you’re not allowed to, as this job description explains: “(my coach) determined that I needed to improve my social skills, so he gave me assignments like “smile at 10 people today”…I thought that was a stupid assignment, so I didn’t do it…as a coach, it really wasn’t his place to set goals for me.”

The guy is literally complaining about the coach telling him to do something he didn’t want to do. That severely limits what a life coach’s responsibilities can actually be, right? By our understanding, a life coach is a person that gives advice that they’ve already been told to give by the person they’re giving the advice to. Is that clear to anybody? Is it a bad sign if your job description doesn’t make grammatical sense?

1.  Be The Advertisement

face-for-sale

How much does your dignity cost? If you answered like a human and said “no amount of money could buy my dignity,” then you just lost capitalism. Don’t feel too bad, though, because this is the woman who’s winning.

That woman got a casino’s website tattooed on her forehead for $15,000, or roughly one penny for every time some half-wit internet writer has used her as comedy fodder. A lot of people have heard of the Golden Palace Forehead girl, but what many don’t realize is that this type of thing isn’t even that uncommon.

Okay, we’re going to stop right here because we at TopTenz try to avoid passing judgement on other people’s lives whenever possible. Instead of making any more jokes, we’re just going to very politely applaud these people for their dedication to their oh-so-crazy schemes.