Saturday, October 13, 2007

Strange Facts - Homeless man is chess king of Washington

strange facts from washington

Strange Facts from WASHINGTON (AFP) - He sleeps on a bench, but he is king of chess during the day at Washington's Dupont Circle, where he dazzles beginners and masters alike with his winning moves on the park's stone chessboards.

Tom Murphy, 49, makes what little money he has from teaching his prodigious knowledge of the game to passersby for a few dollars.

"He has the title of expert in chess. This is the second highest American title; above him are master. So it means he is quite good" said Washington's Chess Center director David Mehler.

A former math and science major and a celebrity among amateurs, Murphy has made the Dupont Circle public square America's most prestigious chess park after New York's fabled Washington Square, according to some chess lovers.

"The mathematical equation has always been strange facts to me, then when you add the camaraderie, the ambiance, the open air, it's almost irresistible," said Murphy, peering over a park chessboard that draws players from all walks of life -- students, doctors, lawyers, drunkards.

Garrulous and brilliant, Murphy, grew up in North Carolina and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, two well known chess centers, and specializes in a lightning version of chess known as "blitz".Strange Facts

In this accelerated version of the ancient game, players are allowed five minutes for all their moves, and the game ends within 10 minutes.

"The appeal of blitz is that, maybe in two or five minutes, I may put together a work of art that might last a life time," Murphy said in his inimitable style of explaining chess basics.

The game, he said consists of "few guiding principles: king safety, fight for the center, give every piece a job."

"At blitz he is a very strong player. He has a very fast mind and he sees combinations very quickly. He calculates very quickly," said Mehler, who has been teaching the board game to underprivileged children for 15 years.

Murphy has won several chess tournaments and finished 15th in the 2005 world blitz championship.

He's not always down and out, but his addiction to booze often lands him on the street.

"The pursuit of the ego versus the pursuit of the spirit are in conflict sometimes," he explained. "I enjoy alcohol a little too much."

He attends Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and admits, "when I don't drink my chess is better." That's some strange facts for sure - he sais

Murphy aims to get better at chess and rise to the title of master.

"I would dearly love to go on and make my master's rating because through that I get a credibility to increase my teaching fee," he said.

"There is an upcoming tournament on Thanskgiving (November 22) in Philadelphia. That's looking promising," he added.

For now, the homeless chess teacher charges 20 to 30 dollars an hour and will match his wits with any rival for two to five dollars per game.

"Grand masters are teaching 100 or 200 bucks (dollars) an hour, masters can get at least 50, that's not bad," he said.

[Via - Yahoo!News]

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Stolen, Dumped, Found, Sold: The Story of a $1m Painting

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

5 Strangest Things To Be Outsourced Weird Facts

1. Lying And Cheating weird facts

Looking to get away for a weekend fling without getting caught? A new French company provides would-be adulterers with custom-made excuses that help take the danger of discovery out of cheating. Founded six months ago by former private eye Regine Mourizard, Web-based Ibila can cook up invites to phony weekend seminars, fake emergency phone calls from work, invitations to nonexistent weddings - anything to justify cheating spouses' absence. [Full Story]

2. Loading Music To Other People's iPods (

Catherine Keane, the owner of Hungry Pod, makes over $100,000 a year, uploading music to other people’s iPods. This online homebusiness idea came to her when an acquaintance offered her $500 to load his CD collection onto his iPod. Thanks in part to a small story in The New York Times, Keane's advertising efforts on Craigslist and word-of-mouth, HungryPod has expanded to three employees and four computers, and has annual sales that exceed $100,000. [Full Story]

3. Picking Lice (

Founded by an experienced registered nurse and mother of two, The Texas Lice Squad provides a full range of services to help eliminate lice and prevent recurrences, beginning with individual and family inspection to determine the extent of infestation, priced at USD 65 for a family of four (USD 5 for each additional household member). In-home treatment and removal costs USD 60 per hour, with a two-hour minimum, which could be money well spent for families who feel that they've exhausted their own resources attempting to eradicate the critters themselves. After using a non-toxic product and professional combing to thoroughly remove all nits and lice, The Texas Lice Squad confirms in writing that a child is nit-free so that he or she can be readmitted to school or daycare. [Full Story]

4. Finding Cool Domain Names For Other People (

Hire another person to think of a cool domain name for you? No way people would pay for this. Actually, naming domain names for others turned out a thriving business, especially, when you make the entire process risk free. PickyDomains currently has a waiting list of people who want to PAY the service to come up with a snappy memorable domain name. PickyDomains is expected to hit six figures this year. [Full Story]

5. Your Reputation (

For $10 a month, will search your name everywhere — even “beyond Google” — including password-protected sites, and give a report of their findings. For about $30 a month, clients can have them do a clean-up, which involves ensuring all links to, for example, a college kegstand on or a disparaging blog entry from a former partner, will not appear during an online search. [Full Story]


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Man faces 30 years for 52-cent doughnut theft - Weird Facts

FARMINGTON, Mo. - It's a hefty price for a pastry: A man accused of stealing a 52-cent doughnut could face time in jail. weird facts

Authorities said Scott A. Masters, 41, slipped the doughnut into his sweat shirt without paying, then pushed away a clerk who tried to stop him as he fled the store.

The push is being treated as minor assault, which transforms a misdemeanor shoplifting charge to a strong-armed robbery with a potential prison term of five to 15 years. Because he has a criminal history, prosecutors say they could seek 30 years.

"Strong-arm robbery? Over a doughnut? That's impossible," Masters told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from jail. He admitted that he took the pastry but denied touching the employee. "There's no way I would've pushed a woman over a doughnut."

Farmington Police Chief Rick Baker said state law treats the shoplifting and assault as forcibly stealing property. The amount of force and value of the property doesn't matter.

"It's not the doughnut," Baker said. "It's the assault."

Masters said he didn't even get to enjoy his ill-gotten gains: He threw the doughnut away as he fled.


Who is Shawn Casey


Monday, October 8, 2007

10 Weird Facts Startups You’ve Never Heard About weird facts

New Yorkers who have a hard time keeping track of personal items now have one less thing to worry about. For a modest annual fee, NewYourKey keeps copies of keys in a secure storage facility and can deliver them right away if customers find themselves locked out. Keys lost in a nightclub at four in the morning? No problem! NewYourKey will deliver spare keys within an hour any time of day or night, wherever a customer happens to be.

Can't think of that totally awesome domain name for a new website? PickyDomains is a risk-free domain naming service that got a lot of publicity and ‘blogtalk’ in Europe lately despite being only two months old. This is how it works. A customer deposits $50 dollars and describes what kind of domain he or she wants. Domain pickers then send in their suggestions of available domain names. If the customer likes one of the domain names and registers it, the service gets $50. Otherwise the money is refunded at the end of the month.

Dave Schrader of Circle Pines and Tim Dennis of Burnsville are leading groups on trips to haunted hotels and spooky cruise ships. The two started an online radio show called "Darkness Radio" in January 2006. Within a year, their weekly broadcasts had made them celebrities among fanciers of otherworldly mystery.
They then began asking the stars of T-V shows about the supernatural to cohost weekends at haunted destinations. Among the locations are the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado -- made famous by the movie "The Shining." Travelers pay between 180 dollars to 250 dollars for the trips -- not including transportation or lodging. is an online marketplace for parking spaces, enabling drivers to search for and book spaces before they leave home, and letting British homeowners monetize unused parking spaces by adding them to the Peasy network. To rent out a parking space, the owner needs to register and enter all relevant details, including price, when the space is available, and whether it will be rented out daily, weekly, or both. Those who require parking can then search for suitable parking spaces and securely book them online, or first negotiate a better price.

Frustrated with the whole process of recruitment agencies Jamie Mistlin and Anna Taylor decided to design a new system where employers and candidates could communicate directly with each other. The site allows companies to book temporary workers directly via our bespoke fully-automated online system. Both parties can even negotiate the hourly rates directly online, as the service does not filter or distribute CVs. Instead candidates market themselves directly to companies via the website.

Tom Taylor never expected to be a player in the business world; he just wanted to play video games. But as he got better and better, his passion for competitive gaming--and his desire to share his expertise with others--grew. Last year, Taylor, a top-five rated player in the pro-gaming circuit, started a video game coaching business to help others who wanted to improve their games. "I wanted to offer them a shortcut so they didn't have to go through what I did to learn," says Taylor, who started playing video games at age 7. Running his business, Gaming-Lessons, out of his Jupiter, Fla., home, Taylor draws dozens of clients from middle-school kids to middle-aged parents and from college students to celebrities. His fees? A whopping $65 an hour.

Two years ago, Eli Reich was a mechanical engineer consultant for a Seattle wind energy company when his messenger bag was stolen. The environmentally conscious Reich, who rode his bike to work every day, decided that instead of buying a new one, he would simply fashion another bag out of used bicycle-tire inner tubes that were lying around his house. Soon compliments on his sturdy black handmade messenger bag turned into requests. "That was the catalyst," says Reich, who obtained a business license, gave up his day job, and quickly launched Alchemy Goods in the basement of his apartment building. The company's motto: "Turning useless into useful."

Got rich friends and need to look the part? Those that can't afford to buy the latest Fendi purse can still sport it thanks to Bag Borrow or Steal, a designer handbag rental startup that allows customers to pay a monthly fee, pick and order handbags online, and borrow them for as long as they like. The service allows style-conscious customers access to the ultra-luxe and high-end products that they otherwise couldn't get their hands on. Monthly memberships range from $20 to $175 a month

When Jason Engen was an undergraduate student at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, he and his friends knew the challenges students faced in finding worthwhile internships. So for one of his business classes, Engen wrote a business plan detailing a concept for an internship placement service--one that would interview and screen students and match them with local companies that needed interns. "We hit a nerve in terms of the marketplace and focused 100 percent of our efforts on students," says Engen. "We started a week after we graduated, and it took off."

Started in 2005, Startup costs: $6,000

When July hit Miami in 1998, everyone seemed to be enjoying the dog days of summer--except the dogs. As owners took giant swigs from their 32-ounce water bottles, their dogs ran to and fro, wearily retrieving makeshift toys in the afternoon heat. It was on one sunny afternoon in July that Carlotta Lennox rolled by a park on a pair of rollerblades, noticed that the dogs looked tired and hungry, and realized how she could give the day back to the dogs. Seven years later, the first Hey Buddy pet vending machine was established in Bark Park Central, an off-leash dog park in Dallas. Lennox, 36, stocked the machine with dog treats, tennis balls, dog shirts, dog glasses--basically everything a dog might need for a walk in the park. And with its shingled roof and slated facade, the doghouse-inspired vending machine was hard to miss--which meant pets and their owners weren't the only ones begging Lennox for more.

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Five Cool Things US Business Owners And Freelancers Get Free - weird facts

1. Free business cards

What's the catch?weird facts - There are no catches. US printers are so overcompetitive, they are willing to give free business cards in hopes that you'll do more business with them later on. To be honest, the free designs not all that impressive, so printers conveniently offer you upgrade for $3 or something like that. I am sure that this is where they make their money.

2. Free Stamps And Postage

Hey, it's only $25 worth of free stamps, but every little bit counts, right?

3. Shawn Casey's Free Business In A Box

If you are into internet marketing, you no doubt know who Shawn Casey is. I personally use this one - it's the best from the list, besides free business cards.

4. Long Lost Sales Letters

This is another great one, if you are addicted to direct mail and direct response marketing, like I am. This is a big collection of old million dollar sales letters back from the 30s to the 80s. Pure marketing genius!

5. The Million Dollar Bookshelf

This site is basically a free collection of James Allen, Napoleon Hill, Benjamin Franklin, and many others. Rare marketing, copywriting and sales books, audiobooks and seminars for download.

'Gay bomb' wins Ig Nobel award - Weird Facts


'Gay bomb' wins Ig Nobel award - Weird Facts

Weird Facts - The annual prizes, awarded by the science humour magazine Annals of Improbable Research, were presented on Thursday evening at a ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the winners must try to explain their work in a minute or less.

While some awards clearly poke fun at popular culture, others are meant to provoke debate about science, honouring achievements that "first make people laugh, and then make them think", according to the magazine.

"These people really ought to have someone, somewhere, in some tiny way, give some kind of recognition that they have done something nobody has ever done," Annals editor Marc Abrahams said.

The Ig Nobel Prizes, in their 17th year, were handed to the winners by genuine Nobel laureates Craig Mello (2006 Medicine), Dudley Herschbach (Chemistry 1986), Robert Laughlin (Physics 1998), William Lipscomb (1976 Chemistry) and Sheldon Glashow (1979 Physics).

This year's winners include:

"Chemistry" – Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Center of Japan, for developing a way to extract vanillin, or vanilla fragrance and flavouring, from cow dung.

"She seems to claim if companies start using this method it might help with global warming because some of all the cow dung that causes problems in the atmosphere will start getting used," Abrahams said in an interview.

"Linguistics" – Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Nuria Sebastian-Galles, of Universitat de Barcelona – for a study showing rats sometimes fail to distinguish between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards.

"Peace Prize" – The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio for instigating research and development on a chemical weapon, the so-called "gay bomb," that "will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other".

"Biology" – Dr Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk of Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, for their census of all the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans, bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi that share our beds at night.

"Economics" – Kuo Cheng Hsieh, of Taichung, Taiwan, for patenting a device in 2001 that catches bank robbers by dropping a net over them, known as the "net trapping system for capturing a robber immediately."

The inventor, however, could not be found by Ig Nobel representatives in Taiwan "We had people in Taiwan looking for him. He's vanished. Somebody suggested to us the possibility that maybe the poor man was trapped inside his own machine," Abrahams said.

Five Cool Things US Business Owners And Freelancers Get Free - weird facts


Sunday, October 7, 2007

"Stupid In America" - How are This Weird Facts ?

"Stupid in America" is a nasty title for a program about public education, but some weird facts are going on in America's public schools and it's about time we face up to it.

Kids at New York's Abraham Lincoln High School told me their teachers are so dull students fall asleep in class. One student said, "You see kids all the time walking in the school smoking weed, you know. It's a normal thing here."

We tried to bring "20/20" cameras into New York City schools to see for ourselves and show you what's going on in the schools, but officials wouldn't allow it.

Washington, D.C., officials steered us to the best classrooms in their district.

We wanted to tape typical classrooms but were turned down in state after state.

Finally, school officials in Washington, D.C., allowed "20/20" to give cameras to a few students who were handpicked at two schools they'd handpicked. One was Woodrow Wilson High. Newsweek says it's one of the best schools in America. Yet what the students taped didn't inspire confidence.

One teacher didn't have control over the kids. Another "20/20" student cameraman videotaped a boy dancing wildly with his shirt off, in front of his teacher.

If you're like most American parents, you might think "These things don't happen at my kid's school." A Gallup Poll survey showed 76 percent of Americans were completely or somewhat satisfied with their kids' public school.

Education reformers like Kevin Chavous have a message for these parents: If you only knew.

Even though people in the suburbs might think their schools are great, Chavous says, "They're not. That's the thing and the test scores show that."

Chavous and many other education professionals say Americans don't know that their public schools, on the whole, just aren't that good. Because without competition, parents don't know what their kids might have had.