The Best Martial Arts Styles for Street Fighting

Ground Fighting Vs Striking

There are thousands of martial arts styles in the world, but the most popular ones have made it as far as they have because they each offer something unique and useful to the overall ability to defend oneself on the street. taekwondo

Taekwondo

This is currently the most practiced martial art in the world, the national sport of South Korea. Taekwondo is the bread and butter of striking. It is essential in building speed and strength through conditioning, and exceptional for increasing flexibility. It’s not hard to learn but very tough to master enough to make it practical in a real life street fight.

The basis of Taekwondo is kicking, and more specifically, high kicking. High kicking is never recommended (above the midsection of the opponent) in a street fight. Only the most experienced and conditioned fighters can pull off these kinds of kicks to make it effective – and it’s rare enough for the simple word of advice: just don’t attempt it. Taekwondo teaches a lot of kicking to the chest and midsection though, which you can get away with. The midsection is a good place to kick because a broken rib can end the fight by itself.

A favorite of this art is the roundhouse kick. It is extremely powerful compared to a punch. Your legs exert more than twice the force of your arms, and when combined with speed, footwork, pivoting, and hip motion, this kick can easily break ribs, damage internal organs, and knock the lights out of people. When aimed at the head, it can cause concussions and even death. So use caution.

The secret to delivering the perfect roundhouse kick is not simply the strength of the leg and thigh muscles. It is the torque generated through the pivoting of the back foot, twisting of the hips and shoulders, and a whipcrack snap of the shin upon contact – all this must happen at the same time. It must be a harmony of collaboration, a result of different powers. The legs are only extensions of the body, and no muscle can work alone. The time it takes to perfect the roundhouse kick may not be long, it’s all about technique. Without technique, speed and strength have no bearing.

Muay Thai

This is one of the toughest and most dangerous and rewarding martial arts. It hails from Southeast Asia, from various countries, including Thailand. Think of this as Taekwondo minus the high kicks, but with aggressive boxing, and the ability to use knees and elbows all combined. It is also a striking art and is the epitome of the ‘hard martial art,’ which emphasizes the use of techniques through physical power.

Roundhouses are also integral here but make use of the shin more, in contrast to the face of the foot in Taekwondo. This is a perspective of Muay Thai’s low kicking style, where as Taekwondo kicks are aimed higher; hence, using the face of the foot for more reach. Muay Thai In a nutshell: Shin roundhouse kicks are powerful, but require heavier conditioning. Old masters are known to train their students by having them kick tree trunks repeatedly. The bones of the shin gain calcium deposits, weakening the nerves and increasing bone density. This toughens the body as a whole. If you want to be a good street fighter, take some lessons in this. The knees and elbows are the bread and butter of this art, and extremely important for in-fighting, which is what most street fights are. It is quick, brutal, and ruthless.

One must realize that in street fights, it’s not a boxing ring. You don’t circle your opponent while looking for openings and staying at striking distance. You have to make your openings.

Boxing

Learn this. No matter what type of fighter you are, learn boxing. Your arms may be weaker than your legs but they are much faster. Boxing teaches people how to punch, which the vast majority of people cannot do properly. This art (yes, this is an art style) is the bread and butter of street fighting in general. Muhammad Ali In street fights, you will rarely use your legs, if ever, other than for footwork. In adapting to frantic and speedy situations, humans rely on punching the most. Some of the best moves in combat take root in boxing: the Jabs, Hooks, and Uppercuts.

Jabs close the distance and open up the combos. Hooks are the power punches. Uppercuts are those integral shots that can overcome the opponent when he’s cornered and tries to defend his face. Uppercuts are not easy to block.

Boxing is underestimated because it doesn’t sound like a mysterious, mystical, and stereotypically Oriental martial art. People don’t take it seriously. But it’s undeniably one of the most important things to learn for self-defense.

Kendo, Silat, Kali

If you happen to own a stick or cane at all times, learn these. It’s self-explanatory.

Wrestling, Jujutsu, Judo

Ground fighting is more important than striking. This includes grappling, joint locks, throws, and submission techniques. Most street fights are up close and personal, ending up on the ground. The best fighter knows how to hold his own on the ground. Size is preferred but doesn’t mean anything compared to speed, agility, and knowing how to use the opponent’s weight against himself.

These arts are closely related and are much tougher in conditioning than the previous three striking arts listed. Olympic Wrestling They also teach you more specifically, how to break bones, joints, and even how to kill. They are dangerous. Watch an Olympic wrestling match. Hell, watch a high school wrestling match. The fighters you see there, despite no fancy martial arts experience or belt rank attached to their name, are some of the most formidable fighters in the world.

On the ground, they would tear the average person apart. There are ‘less’ fatal joint locking and grappling arts like Aikido and Hapkido, which reign from Japan and South Korea, respectively.

Why does ground fighting usually trump striking?

The average human, without any specialized training, is still very dangerous as a striker. The punches can be sloppy, the elbows can be inaccurate, but it doesn’t take many hits to the head to do knock someone out. Look at it this way. The average human has a moderate knowledge on how to fight on two feet. But the average human knows little on what to do when he’s in a submissive position on the ground. Arm Bar Now if you take the average striker against an average ground fighter in a fight upon two feet, the striker will have the upper hand but the ground fighter will know enough to hold his own. Specialized skill can only compensate a bit, real fights are unpredictable. The striker does not have the finishing advantage.

Now if you take the average striker against the average ground fighter in a fight on the ground, the striker will get pulverized. The knowledge on how to handle oneself on the ground isn’t as ‘common’ or ‘mainstream’ as punching and kicking.

The ground fighter has a huge upper hand. And it’s well known how often real street fights go to the ground. That’s why it’s best to have both worlds to survive in each.

The Judgment – Which Style Is the Best?

Some of the best styles to learn how to fight are the most overlooked. To be a good fighter, you have to be able to strike and dominate the ground. Weakness in one makes you weak as an adaptive fighter. However, most often than not, in a fight between a striker and a grappler/ground fighter, the ground fighter has the advantage. Once the fight goes to the ground, it’s over. All it takes is closing the distance.

In Olympic non-full contact sparring and demonstrations in which the guy being demonstrated on just stands there, nothing is informative. If you want to learn how to fight, watch MMA fights, like UFC or Pride Fighting. Boxing is also informative if you want to understand good footwork and proper punching form.Bruce Lee Quote Learn how to dominate both battlefields and you win the battle. Do not attempt the moves at home and sign up at your neighborhood dojo or dojang. You might be choosing something you were destined to do.

In the end, the style does not make the fighter. The fighter makes the style.

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5 Amazing Facts About Spinosaurus

Spinosaurus became famous after defeating Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic Park III, but since its discovery in 1912, it has always been a top contender for being the longest theropod of all time. Spinosaurus’ tall skin sail of bony blades was just one of its incredible features during its life in the Early Cretaceous. It’s nearly a century since its first fossil remains were found and now science has discovered a lot more about this dinosaur and its accurate size. Here are 5 most amazing facts about Spinosaurus.

Spinosaurus Sketch

  • Where it Lived – Present-day Africa
  • Habitat – Flood Plains
  • Size – 46-59 feet long
  • When it Lived – Middle Cretaceous Period, about 95 million years ago.

SPINOSAURUS’ SIZE

It’s a subject under much debate. Spinosaurus was described by German paleontologist Ernst Stromer in 1915 to be around 46 feet long and weighing 7.4 tons. Future specimens were incomplete as well but were reported to be around the same range of size. However, the most recent Spinosaurus fossil discovery in 2005 had an enormous skull that measured six feet long. The dinosaur is known for its long narrow snout and six feet was over a foot longer than the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex skull in the world (which was 4’11 long). The specimen found was estimated to be 52-59 feet long, making it the longest theropod dinosaur that ever lived – even longer than T-Rex.

But due to the incomplete remains found so far and the fact that the skeletal framework of Spinosaurus was much different compared to its robust and heavier built “contenders” like Tyrannosaurus Rex, Giganotosaurus, and others, experts still disagree on which is the biggest. It was longer but it was lighter, which is why it’s not considered to be the largest dinosaur predator. Its huge sail made it seem larger than it actually was.

Spinsosaurus vs Tyrannosaurus Rex – Who Would Win?

In the movie Jurassic Park III, Spinosaurus snapped Tyrannosaurus Rex’s neck without much of a fight. This battle was fictional, of course, since the two species lived vast distances and millions of years apart from one another. But in a realistic scenario, which dinosaur would win in a battle?

Spinosaurus was lighter than Tyrannosaurus Rex but it had a longer skull and snout. Its teeth were very similar to a modern day crocodile’s, and it had extra teeth in the lower jaw – specially designed for holding struggling prey in a crushing grip. Spinosaurus had longer forelimbs, a large sickle-shaped thumb claw, and powerful shoulders. A lighter build also meant more agility.

Tyrannosaurus Rex on the other hand was heavily built, had one of the most powerful bite forces, and is arguably the “king.” But to this day, scientists still debate whether it was actually a scavenger. A large consenus states that it could have been both. Unfortunately, the world will never know which species would win.

Spinosaurus Size

WHAT DID SPINOSAURUS EAT?

Spinosaurus was an apex predator like T-Rex but its skeletal structure (especially the skull) resembled other spinosaurs like Baryonyx and Suchomimus. Its long narrow snout, sharp teeth (without serrations), and ability to walk on all fours indicate that it was designed to hunt large fish and perhaps even large dinosaurs.

Its large hook-like thumb claw was also built to grab fish like a grizzly bear. Its diet consisted of both fish and meat, depending on which was available. There was no doubt it lived near water.

THE GIANT BONY SAIL

Spinosaurus’ brightly colored sail is what makes it stand out. Without it, it wouldn’t look as menacingly large. But this bony sail has other functions. Spinosaurus could have used it to attract mates as a display, support a tall fleshy lump to store food, and to control its body temperature. This indicated that it was most probably cold-blooded – unable to regulate its own temperature.

SPINOSAURUS’ INTELLIGENCE AND BEHAVIOR

Spinosaurus was an “advanced theropod”, making it one of the more intelligent dinosaurs. Its EQ (Encephalization Quotient), which measures brain size relative to body weight, proved that. As an apex predator, it had no direct threats and it was large enough to take down sauropods.

Based on its structure, experts believe Spinosaurus was very similar to a crocodile and a grizzly bear, in terms of possible hunting habits. Since its original remains were destroyed in an allied bombing during World War II, it’s difficult to gain a stronger understanding of the dinosaur. There may even be a larger species we just haven’t discovered yet.

References

David Lambert, Darren Naish, and Elizabeth Wyse. “Double Beams.” Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life. DK Publishing, 2008.

“Spinosaurus”. Enchanted Learning.

dal Sasso, C.; Maganuco, S.; Buffetaut, E.; and Mendez, M.A. (2005). “New information on the skull of the enigmatic theropod Spinosaurus, with remarks on its sizes and affinities“. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology25 (4): 888-896. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2005)025[0888:NIOTSO]2.0.CO;2

“Museum unveils world’s largest T-rex skull”. Montana State University.

The Five Most Painful Execution Methods in History

Look at the world today and the punishments for capital crimes. Although the death penalty still exists, execution methods a lot reasonable now than they were centuries ago. Modern death penalties are quite tame when compared to the horrible torture and executions done in ancient times, the Middle Ages, and even as recent as the 17th century. Here are the five most painful execution methods of history. They are cruel, unusual, and serve as a reminder to the human race of what we we’ve done to our fellow man. Note; viewer discretion is advised.

Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered

This feared execution method was first used against the most serious criminals in England during the 13th century, reserved for those who have committed high treason. Being hung, drawn, and quartered is considered one of the most defining examples of the term “cruel and unusual punishment.”1

drawn and quartered

As explained in British Criminal Law2, first the prisoner is dragged on wooden frame to the site of his execution (drawn). Then he is hung repeatedly by the neck until almost dead and is released before the final moment – this is meant to act as pre-emptive torture. The executioner will then strap the naked prisoner down onto a rack (usually to a public audience) and perform the most gruesome part of the method. He is castrated and disemboweled on the spot, and his respective body organs (genitalia, entrails, and others) are set aflame in front of his very eyes. He would still be alive at that point and will be decapitated. His body parts would then be cut up in four pieces to be gibbeted (put on public display) in different parts of the country to deter future treason.

Notable men who have been executed this way were William Wallace3 (featured in the movie Braveheart) and Guy Fawkes. Guy Fawkes, who was arrested for the infamous Gunpowder Plot4, cheated the executioners by jumping off during the hanging step, causing his neck to break and kill him, effectively avoiding the rest of the execution. His accomplice, however, tried to do the same but his rope broke. He wasn’t so lucky. The method was used for centuries and wasn’t abolished until 1870.

Crucifixion

Crucifixion was an ancient method of execution used by the Persians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Macedonians, and Romans in differing procedures and variations of the structure of the cross. To this day the crucifix5, the wooden cross, remains one of the most important symbols of Christianity.

The condemned were usually those who have committed the worst crimes, but in many cases, it was used against slaves and prisoners of war to instill fear and deter enemy armies. Typically, the man would have his skin torn from an initial flagellation (severe whipping) and was forced to drag the 300 pound cross6 to his site of execution. The victim’s hands are outstretched and nailed to the cross, either through the palms or wrists (differing ways existed).7 Sometimes the heels of the feet are were also nailed, which would have caused tremendous pain.8 The victims are then left to die on the cross, exposed to the blistering heat of the sun. Death usually occurred from sepsis, hypovolemic shock, dehydration, or from the pain itself. Asphyxiation9 also occurs since the victim isn’t able to draw air into his lungs due to the difficulty of inhaling, and he would have to draw support with his outstretched arms (or use his nailed feet), leading to increasing exhaustion. The process of death is very slow and painful, sometimes lasting for days.

crucifixion

Famous victims of this execution method include Jesus Christ and Saint Peter. 6,000 followers of Spartacus during their rebellion against the Roman Republic were also crucified to make sure such treason wouldn’t happen again.10

Brazen Bull

The Brazen Bull was an ancient Greek torture and execution device, invented by Perillos of Athens11 (and proposed to Phalaris, the tyrant of Akragas, Sicily). The device was made completely out of brass and in the shape of a bull. It was hollow and had a door opening into it from the side. While it doesn’t sound intimidating, the special function of the bull would strike fear into the hearts of anyone during that time.

Brazen Bull

How would you die to the Brazen Bull? First you were locked inside and a fire was set under the bull, causing the metal to heat up to the point where it became yellow hot. With no way to escape, you’re left to slowly roast inside the device. This is much more grisly than being burnt at the stake, since the agony is extended significantly longer. In addition to that, the head of the ox was built with a system of tubes and stops so when you screamed, the sounds would be manipulated to sound like an angry bull – hence the name. Your screams of agony would be amplified as you roasted and the smoke would rise in “spicy clouds of incense.” Not a pleasant way to go.

Impalement

One of the most despicable human acts in history is impalement. That is, the process of piercing someone with a long sharp stake. Penetration could be from many different sides but in this particular method, the stake was inserted through the rectum, vagina, or through the mouth12. There are many different forms of impalement, as it was used in Asia and Europe throughout the Middle Ages.

Impalement

Public torture and rape usually came before the actual execution. The victim would be tied up and a cut was made between the rectum and genitals, where a sharp pole with a blunt end was driven through. The blunt end ensured the damage to the body wouldn’t cause death too quickly by pushing important organs to the side. The other end of the stake came out of the upper half of the body, typically out of the sternum. A person can live for as many as three days as he is hoisted up in the air, suspended to die slowly in agony. This method was so ruthless that it was rarely used even during those times.

Vlad III the Impaler was very fascinated by this method of execution. In fact, he was known to have had several thousands of people impaled at the same time in the same spot (in different incidences)13, most notably prisoners of war.

Scaphism

Scaphism (also known as The Boats)14 has a reputation of being unheard of, especially next to some of the other methods mentioned above. Humiliating and grisly, scaphism was performed in many different ways. Although it was an ancient Persian method of execution, the actual name is Greek in origin (meaning “scooped out”).15

The process went like this. First you were stripped naked and tied inside a back-to-back pair of rowing boats. Sometimes a hollowed out tree trunk is used. You are tied down in such a way that you have no way of escaping. You are then force-fed milk and honey to the point where you develop extreme diarrhea, causing an accumulation of feces inside the boat where you are trapped. Your executioners will then proceed to rub honey on your body to attract even more insects, such as stinging bees. Hands, head, and feet will protrude out of the boat, for attracting hungry insects. Typically, you would be left to the burning sun or forced to float on a stagnant pond of water.

Scaphism

The pain would have been unimaginable, especially due to insects breeding within your own gangrenous flesh (including laying of eggs) as you succumbed to physical and psychological pain, diarrhea, delirium, nausea, dehydration, starvation, septic shock, and so on. Sometimes the force-feeding would be repeated to make sure you don’t die too soon, prolonging the suffering. It should be noted that one cannot usually die from the mass of insect bites and stings alone. Asphyxia can sometimes occur if the insects (such as ants) swarm enough to enter your body through the ears, mouth, and nose, and enter the lungs. The ‘feeding’ can take place from the ‘inside out.’ That should leave a bit of imagination to the degree of pain you might feel if you undergo scaphism. Imagine feeling the prickling of every single bite and sting of those insects as you are left to rot in a pool of your own increasing mass of feces.

The torture and resulting death may last for days and was humiliating. Plutarch once wrote how Mithridates survived for a full 17 days before dying, as punishment for killing Cyrus the Younger.16

References:

[1] In Wilkerson v. Utah (1878, pertaining to methods of capital punishment), the United States Supreme Court commented that drawing and quartering, public dissecting, burning alive and disemboweling would constitute cruel and unusual punishment while determining that death by firing squad was as legitimate as the common method of that time, hanging

[2] Richard Burn (1836), The Justice of the Peace and Parish Officer, Volume III (Criminal Law) of V volumes. T. Cadell. p. 928

[3] Brown, Chris. William Wallace. The True Story of Braveheart. Stroud: Tempus Publishing Ltd, 2005. ISBN 0-7524-3432-2

[4] Antonia Fraser, Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot, Anchor, 1997. ISBN 0-385-47190-4[5] Online Etymology Dictionary, “Crucify”: Online Etymology Dictionary

[6] Dr. Richard P. Butcher, “Crucifixion in the Ancient World” Crucifixion in the Ancient World

[7] Liddell and Scott on χείρ. Cf. The Science of the Crucifixion

[8] David W. Chapman, Ancient Jewish and Christian perceptions of crucifixion (Mohr Siebeck, 2008), p. 86-89

[9] Retief FP and Cilliers L.,The History and Pathology of Crucifixion, The history and pathology of crucifixion

[10] Horace White, Appian • The Civil Wars – Book I (English translation; 1913)

[11] Joaquin de la Sierra, The Brazen Bull: Medieval Times and Castles, http://www.medievality.com/brazen-bull.html[12] Aiolos. “Turkish Culture: The Art of Impalement.” e-grammes.gr, 7 April 2006.

[13] DRACULA: between myth and reality. by Adrian Axinte. Stanford University.

[14] Scaphism, VisWiki, http://www.viswiki.com/en/Scaphism

[15] Definition of Scaphism, Die.net, http://dictionary.die.net/scaphism

[16] Artaxerxes, Plutarch, (75)

5 Amazing Facts About Diplodocus

Diplodocus was larger than a tennis court and weighed only as much as two elephants. When people think of huge sauropods like Brachiosaurus, they should remember that the Diplodocus may emerge victorious in a fictional deathmatch, considering its powerful 45 foot long tail (consisting of atleast 80 caudal vertebrae) that was as flexible as a whip.

Diplodocus

The latest science research has shown us the amazing feats of this dinosaur. Here are 5 amazing facts about Diplodocus, from its genius architecture to its physical feats.

  • Where it Lived – North America
  • Habitat – Floodplains
  • Size – 89 feet (45 foot long tail)
  • When it Lived – Late Jurassic, 155-145 million years ago

THE “DOUBLE BEAM” WHIP-LIKE TAIL

Most of Diplodocus‘ length came from its extremely long tail, so long that forced it to graze on low-growing ferns instead of taking it to the high ground like Brachiosaurus. This tail consisted of rodlike bones at its end. The interesting part about the middle of its tail was the fact that it had twin extensions called chevrons in its bones that could’ve protected its blood vessels against excessive force. It was called the “double beam” tail.

This architecture made the tail strong so it can use it as a counter-balance or use it to scare off predators by using noise made from its whiplashes against the ground. Some scientists speculate it was also used for active defending. In other words, it could have fought off large predators quite well since 80 caudal vertebrae makes up a lot of weight on the outside. When that much weight hits at breakneck speeds, there is going to be major damage to the predator’s bones and blood vessels. If anything, the tail would’ve made the perfect deterrent for attacks.

Diplodocus Tail

ABNORMAL SIZE, EVEN MORE ABNORMAL WEIGHT

Diplodocus was nearly 90 feet long but its range of weight lies between 11-17.6 tons, which is light for a dinosaur of its size. This is possible because most of that length comes from its long slender neck and tail. There are deep hollows in the spinal bones that significantly reduce the weight, making movement more fluid.

It would give Diplodocus better agility and helped it swing its neck side to side to tear ferns with its teeth. The movement is needed since it was a slow-moving animal.

DIPLODOCUS’S DIET, DIGESTION, AND LIFESTYLE

Diplodocus’s neck was so long and difficult to lift that its posture was almost always horizontal. That’s why it grazed on low-growing ferns instead of leaves on tall trees. Using its tail and neck to sweep the vegetation as it fed with its peg-shaped teeth, the dinosaur had the diet part handled.

Like many grazing animals today, Diplodocus may have used swallowed stones to grind up the fronds in its stomach for better digestion.

DIPLODOCUS’S RELATIVES WERE EVEN BIGGER

Diplodocus is the ‘standard’ species of the Diplodocid family. Other sauropods like Apatosaurus were just as long as Diplodocus but much heavier, nearly as much as five elephants, due to the thicker bones. Dinosaurs like Barosaurus was very similar to Diplodocus except a third of its entire length was made up by the neck, or cervical vertebrae. Barosaurus had the same number of neck bones but each bone was stretched, making it so long that the dinosaur’s center of gravity was near its hips. Like Diplodocus, its front limbs were shorter than the hind limbs.

Supporting weight when rearing back to raise the neck is important. Barosaurus used that advantage to hold its neck nearly fifty feet off the ground. Other sauropods like Seismosaurus and Supersaurus made Diplodocus’s size look small, measuring well over 100 feet long.

Diplodocus StandingDINOSAUR FACT – HERD BEHAVIOR, INTELLIGENCE, AND LIFE EXPECTANCY

Paleontologists used to think Diplodocus had a “second brain” but now confirm that it’s just an enlargement of the spinal cord in the area of the hip – an enlargement that was actually bigger than its tiny actual brain. In terms of the EQ quotient (Encephalization Quotient), its brain relative to its body weight was in the lowest ranks of all dinosaurs.

Diplodocus traveled in herds and migrated when food was scarce. An interesting fact is that Diplodocus laid its eggs as it walked like other sauropods in a linear fashion – their eggs have never been found in circles. The life expectancy was similar to other sauropods – around 100 years.

_________________

References

David Lambert, Darren Naish, and Elizabeth Wyse. “Double Beams.” Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life. DK Publishing, 2008.

“Diplodocus”, Enchanted Learning.

Japanese Giant Hornet, the Killer Insect of Japan

30 Japanese Giant Hornets Can Take Out 30,000 Honeybees 

Japenese Giant Hornets

The world’s largest hornet is the Asian Giant Hornet (or Japanese Giant Hornet) and it is as dangerous as its reputation says. They are nicknamed “Yak killers” precisely because they’re capable of doing it. The Japanese Asian Hornet is the ultimate killer insect of Japan, responsible for 20 to 40 human deaths each year.

This giant killer insect is 2 inches long and has a wingspan of 3 inches. If you were to put one of these insects on your palm, it would occupy a good portion. Its wingspan is larger than some hummingbirds in Japan. Even more frightening is that the queen Asian giant hornets can grow up to 2.2 inches long – that’s longer than your thumb.

The Asian Giant Hornet’s Sting Can Dissolve Human Tissue

A single one of these insects can be fatal to an adult, especially if there is an allergic reaction. If you have been stung once before by one, the chance of anaphylactic shock is much higher if you get stung again. This hornet’s sting contains venom much more potent than typical wasps, bees, and hornets of other species. The stinger is a ¼ of an inch long – that is the size of the tip of a pencil!

Japanese Giant Hornet stings

Extra caution must be taken because a single sting from the Asian giant hornet can be lethal even to people who aren’t allergic to the venom. It consists of cytolytic peptide, which literally tears apart cell tissue on the molecular scale with phospholipase enzymes.

How Painful is the Sting of This Killer Hornet?

Like a hot nail being driven through my leg.

That’s what Masato Ono said, an entomologist in Tokyo who researches the huge insect. The size of the stinger is nearly the size of the tip of a nail after all. But the least of your worries would be the pain caused by the acetylcholine in the neurotoxin venom. If it decides to keep stinging you repeatedly, you’re in for a bad day, and research shows that if you wear a black shirt, you have a higher chance of being a target.

Also, the Asian giant hornet primarily uses its powerful mandibles to crush other insects, such as bees and wasps. They partake in large scale warfare and you can see just how much more stronger these hornets are compared to other insect predators in the environment.

If You Are Stung, Run Away As Fast As Possible and Seek Medical Help

After the Asian giant hornet stings you, there will be pheromone chemicals released by the venom that attracts all nearby killer hornets to attack you en masse and sting you to death. If you didn’t kill it, it will keep stinging you because like all wasps and hornet species, it has a barbless stinger. Using it doesn’t cause death. This is a defensive measure used when protecting their hives and nests.

Did I mention run as fast as you can? These killer insects can fly at speeds of 25 miles per hour and travel 40 miles a day in large swarms.

They are invaders of other bees and wasp hives and as seen in the video of them decimating 30,000 honeybees, they have the ability to dominate any environment full of non-native Japanese insect species.

The Japanese honey bees, unlike their European cousins, have a strategy to kill the giant Asian hornet before it can call upon a party to invade their hive. All insects send a scout or two to find food or resources and that’s all it takes. A single sighting is enough for the scout hornet to release a chemical trail which will then be traced back.

However, the native Japanese honey bee has a tactic of collectively having all the workers of the hive swarm around the giant hornet scout, preventing escape and vibrating intensely, causing the molecules in the air to heat up. The temperature rises up to 117 degrees (47 degrees Celsius) and causes the hornet’s organs to implode from the heat, since it cannot tolerate the conditions. Several bees are sacrificed but the entire colony is saved from a mass invasion.

Two stings or more to any person can be deadly and they’re capable for chasing for a long time. They are attracted to certain perfumes (they contain chemicals that are similar to their swarm-kill instinct pheromone) and having alcohol beverages and sugar products is basically painting a target sign on your body. Asian giant hornets are ferocious defenders and can kill animals much larger than humans if they get too close to their nesting sites.

One of Nature’s Deadliest Killers

Now you know how being the largest hornet in the world gives the giant Asian hornet a fearsome reputation. It has a deadly venomous sting, insect-cutting mandibles, and has the ability to kill colonies of bees, wasps, praying mantises, livestock, and even humans.

Do not mess with nature’s deadliest.

Liger – The Biggest Cat in the World

One of the biggest cats in the prehistoric era of Earth was the American Lion, but it has been extinct for thousands of years. However, there is proof that breaks the myth that a tiger and a lion can’t produce a cub if they breed. It is extremely rare in the wild, but it’s possible when these big cats are bred in captivity. A Liger (Male Lion and Female Tiger) and Tigon (Male Tiger and Female Lions) results.

Liger

The liger is the biggest cat in the world and it simply dwarfs tigers and lions in size and weight. Their skulls are more than double the size of the heads of its respective parents. Jungle Island in Miami holds a Liger named Hercules that is recognized by Guiness World Records for being the “biggest cat in the world”. Hercules weighs over 1100 pounds, over twice the weight of his father, and enough to rival Polar Bears. Hercules still holds the record at the time of this writing and is healthy. Sinbad is also a liger that was shown on the National Geographic channel. He is reported to be the exact size and weight as Hercules.

HOW DO LIGERS GET SO BIG?

Ligers have imprinted genes present in all feline big cats species. This gene can be expressed maternally or paternally, with great restrictions to species and gender. That’s why the Liger is much larger than its ‘brother’ species, the Tigon.

largest ligerFemale tigers express a gene that causes the pre-pubescent growth hormone of ligers to go on throughout its life, but at the cost of sterility. Female ligers, however, can remain fertile. They are to big cats what gigantism (caused by a pituitary tumor producing excess growth hormone) is to humans, except they can still use their powerful physical assets such as bone crushing jaws and slashing claws. Ligers also have the camoflauge stripes as that trait is passed down from their maternal tiger counterparts. Look at how big they can grow in this Liger video. On the main page of Liger.org, you can find even more Liger and Tigon videos.

The truth is that ligers and tigons have been well known to the world for much of the last two centuries. In A. H. Bryden’s published work, Animal Life and the World of Nature, the knowledge of the way these cats are bred was explained in great detail as early as 1902.

It has remained for one of the most enterprising collectors and naturalists of our time, Mr Carl Hagenbeck, not only to breed, but to bring successfully to a healthy maturity, specimens of this rare alliance between those two great and formidable felidae, the lion and tiger.

LIGER ATTACK KILLS OWNER – LIGERS ARE JUST AS DANGEROUS AS TIGERS AND LIONS

Animal handler Peter Getz was killed by a liger he was taking care of in the Safari’s Animal Sanctuary. Such unstable personality changes are not rare when handling these dangerous animals and caution must be taken. In cross-breeding between species, the natural DNA process is not natural and many errors occur – such as split personality of aggression.

Cat conservationist Tippi Hedren has stated this on the National Geopraphic website:

Beyond appearance, the big cats betray their mixed ancestry with a split personality. They like to be in the water (a tiger trait) and are very social (a lion trait).

Although it’s rare, conflict in animal instinct can cause behavioral problems in the cat, especially for zoo-keepers.

The Ethics of Cross-Breeding

The dangers of cross-breeding between species are well known to all zoologists and animal owners. The technique isn’t down to science and the problems that manifest over time in these big cats get worse and worse. This is seen a lot in household dogs when they are cross-bred with a variety of different species.

Does man have the power to play God? Many would argue that these breeding events do cause in nature but those concerned with the ethics of zoo-keeping of animals would point out that zoos are gaining profit by showcasing ligers and tigons.

cross-breed

However, most recognized zoos in the United States prohibit cross-breeding between species, especially in the case of tigers and lions. Here is a popular video on Youtube that explains exclusive facts about the dangers of breeding cats of different species . The Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary and the Big Cat Rescue organizations seek to protect the ligers and tigons from the congenital defects other issues they have acquire during their growth.

The bottom line is that although big cat species such as the Siberian Tiger is the largest ‘pure’ taxon cat, and extinct animals like the American Lion was more naturally adept at surviving in the wild (it frequently competed against the Giant short-faced bear ), the liger still holds the title for being the biggest extant cat according to sheer mass, and it’s a quite rare to find these things in nature. Like with all animals, bred in captivity or in the wild, their power must always be respected.

References:

Bryden, A.H. (contributor). “Animal Life and the World of Nature” (1902-1903, bound partwork).

Barnett, Lindsay (2008-10-31). “Liger attack victim dies from wounds in Oklahoma“, Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 1 November 2008.

Growth dysplasia in hybrid big cats“. Retrieved on June 23, 2006.

Top 10 Upcoming MMORPGs of 2010-2012

The Next-Generation of Online Gaming

There are few games that can make technical breakthroughs and hope to challenge World of Warcraft. But these highly anticipated releases are up to the task: the top 10 upcoming MMORPGs of 2010-2012 for consoles and PC. Let’s cut to the content and analyze how their gameplay makes them part of the next-generation we’re all waiting for.

Star Wars: The Old Republic (PC) – Release Date: Q1-Q2 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic has been anticipated by MMORPG gamers since its announcement in late 2008. Bioware has a superb track record in RPGs, and it was no surprise that it wanted The Old Republic universe to become the interactive online game. SW:TOR seems to be a well-polished juggernaut, with the promise of being one of the company’s largest projects to date with a budget of over $300 million. Will it be able to dethrone World of Warcraft, or more realistically, rival it?

Star Wars TOR

Let’s look at the facts. Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the first MMORPG to have cover mechanics and fully voiced NPCs in history. There are currently eight classes announced, restricted to either the Sith or Republic factions. Classes like the Sith Warrior excel in raw lightsaber melee combat, whereas the Republic Trooper class is pure destruction from range. There will be advanced class specializations; for example, Smugglers can specialize as gung-ho Gunslingers or choose the Han Solo-esque Scoundrel path (watch the video here). Imperial Agents are effective on the battlefield and a great asset to any party. Players will be able to use Companions (NPC party members) and the decisions they make in quest dialogue with NPCs and what they do in the scope of the war will determine the very fate of their characters. “Re-rolling” with a new class would never give the same gameplay experience. Expect a deeply engrossing storyline and reappearances from legendary characters such as Darth Revan – as was hinted in this new trailer.

There will be dozens of planets. There will be space combat, as was revealed in Gamescom 2010. The variety of race and class choices ensures that the gameplay will go beyond the familiar tank-dps-healer approach as seen in other MMORPGs. Some people believe the game is simply WoW with Star Wars skins, but it looks like it will improve mainstream online mechanics and offer something new. The confirmation of PvP Warzones such as in Alderaan is exciting. And with future expansions and features, there’s no doubt why this is the most-anticipated MMORPG of 2011. It is set to release in Q1-Q2 2011.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (PC) – Release Date: Dec. 7, 2010

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will be the third expansion of this unstoppable MMORPG franchise. There are some haters out there, but no can deny this series’ level of polish, longevity, and flexibility to remain at the top for a long time to come. Each expansion has received critical acclaim and record-breaking sales, and this one will likely break the previous record for the fastest-selling computer game of all time (2.8 million on day one, held by Wrath of the Lich King). The epic new cinematic trailer says enough.

Let’s cut to the content. Deathwing is the new antagonist and he looks to be more sinister than any previous endgame boss in WoW, as it should be. The level cap is now 85 and there will be six new high-level zones. For the two brand new races, the Goblin (Horde) and Worgen (Alliance), there will be new starting level zones – Bilgewater Cartel and Gilneas, respectively. New race-class combinations will be possible now, with the disturbing and inevitable existence of Tauren Paladins.

Deathwing

Cataclysm will completely revamp the environment and quests in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdom. As expected, there will be new dungeons and raids (heroic and normal versions), a PvP-instanced dungeon named Baradin Hold, two arena-style rated battlegrounds, and even heroic revamps of classic dungeons (Shadowfang Keep and Deadmines). The talent system has received an overhaul. There will be a Guild Achievement system, the Archaeology profession, and many features that have not yet been described in detail (such as underwater gameplay). Cataclysm is the most-wanted upcoming MMORPG expansion to date and its release date has finally been announced – Dec. 7, 2010 (digital sale).

Guild Wars 2 (PC) – Release Date: TBA 2011

Guild Wars 2 has been in development since its announcement in 2007. The first Guild Wars remains one of the highest-rated MMORPGs to date, and doesn’t charge a monthly subscription. For the PvP-centric player who emphasizes better skills over using superior loot to beat opponents, it’s the perfect online game.

Guild Wars 2 improves upon its predecessor by using true 3D environments, more powerful animation and graphics, and utilizes the Havok physics system. Like its title implies, it is a completely new game in its own regard, retaining Guild Wars‘ fundamentals but revamping many features. It is being geared toward the next-gen MMORPG crowd. This time, PvP can escalate to world-versus-world battles called The Mists.

Guild Wars 2 Logo

The maximum character level has been raised to 80. There are five races and eight professions, and each profession has three sub-divisions – Scholar (light armor), Adventurers (medium armor), and Soldiers (heavy armor). Underwater areas are in-game to explore and the quest system is based on dynamic events rather than static quests. PvE will be in a persistent area but will also use instanced content to depict the storyline. Combat is expected to be more balanced than before, and crafting and other non-combat activities will play a significant impact in both PvP and PvE. The game stresses player skill over quality of loot in determining who emerges victorious in battles – which is not the case for most online games.

The Guild Wars series is a standout in the MMORPG industry. Any serious gamer looking for competitive online PvP should keep an eye out for this one.

TERA (PC) – Release Date: TBA 2010-2011

TERA (The Exiled Realm of Arborea) is receiving a lot of hype because it breaks traditional MMORPG point-and-click mechanics. The battle system is dynamic and utilizes a third person view in which players can use crosshairs to target enemies rather than using the infamous “auto-attack.” It is being developed by Bluehole Studio and is set to release in South Korea in late 2010 and in Europe and North America in early 2011.

TERA

Six races and eight playable classes have been confirmed. The damage-dealing classes such as the Archer, Berserker, and the Slayer wreak havoc on the battlefield, and there are tanking (Warrior and Lancer) and magic classes (Mystic and Priest) as well. Gamers can highly customize their characters. The visuals are great and the drive away from point-and-click mechanics makes it a game worth checking out.

TERA has a significant community of followers and guilds. The game can even be played on a gamepad, a sure sign that it will be a fast-paced MMOG.

Fallout Online (PC) – Release Date: TBA 2012

Fallout Online was a not a big surprise to gamers when it was officially announced because it was known to exist in rumors (codenamed Project V13) for a long time – as well as a legal dispute between Bethesda Softworks and Interplay over the rights to the license. Very little information is known about this game, but it is part of a well-established RPG series, so there are high expectations.

Fallout Online shot

Players can sign up for the Fallout Online beta registration and newsletter at the main website. The concept art depicts the post-apocalyptic vision to be realized. It is only a matter of waiting now. Interplay will be developing with the same engine as used in Earthrise (by Masthead Studios). Specific details on story and gameplay style is non-existent but will be revealed in the future. The SPECIAL system and the rich lore, characters, races, and combat styles have always made the Fallout series an ideal candidate for an MMORPG. It is expected to be released in 2012.

Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online (PC) – Release Date: TBA

Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online is one hardcore upcoming MMORPG with a heavy emphasis on player versus player gameplay. Fans of the renowned series are going to get what they want: in-depth firefights, player formed squads, and teamwork strategies like cover and flanking mechanics. Vigil Games want to bring forth “battlegrounds of epic proportions.” This isn’t simply WoW with guns and axes. Watch the E3 2010 reveal trailer here.

Warhammer Online

Let’s see what has been announced about this game. Controllable vehicles are key, with the ability to transport multiple players. There are no non-combat classes – this is all war. Customization is extensive (weapons, armor, chains, visual appearance, etc.) and the Warhammer cities, characters, and lore will be portrayed in the grandest sense. There are four playable factions; Imperium, Eldar, Orks, and Chaos. There will be PvE content as well and grouping is not always needed to progress. This upcoming MMORPG is high on the hype list and promises the sci-fi shooting gameplay that gamers really want.

DC Universe Online (PC and PS3) – Release Date: Q1 2011

DC Universe Online is not far from release and is set to be different than most MMORPGs. The idea of Gotham City, Metropolis, and Arkham Asylum as places you can visit and choose as your player’s origin is tempting. Sony Online Entertainment seeks to make the game more immersive while also keeping key elements like endgame progression, raiding, and leveling. Most of the world will be “shared” public space, with neither heroes nor villains owning it as territory. The public space has dynamically generated content that depends on what your allegiance is. If you are a superhero, you have to stop a thug robbing an armored truck. If you chose to be a villain, your job is self-explanatory. Expect many clan wars between disgruntled players.

DC Universe flying

The story is the highlight of this saga in the DC Universe. The new cinematic trailer “Who Do You Trust?” introduces gamers to the fateful events that put the world’s fate in jeopardy. There is no doubt this MMO is going to be dark and uncompromising. The sheer number of iconic superheroes and villains involved is enough to want to know what will happen. Earth’s enemy is Brainiac, shown in the cinematic to have destroyed the planet in the future, an event that must be prevented at all costs.

DC Universe Online will be released for both PC and the Playstation 3 in Q1 2011.

Jumpgate Evolution (PC) – Release Date: TBA

Jumpgate Evolution is the sequel to Jumpgate: The Reconstruction Initiative. NetDevil designed a new graphics engine and gave it higher accessibility. The industry needs more space action MMORPGs and this one looks promising with the prospect of twitch-based combat gameplay. There is both PvP and PvE oriented content, and players will choose one of the three playable nations upon starting. The player versus player component will have a variety of risk and reward scenarios, which is excellent for those wanting a hardcore PvP experience with harsher penalties for dying.

Jumpgate Evolution sketch

Jumpgate Evolution was originally scheduled for release in June 2009 but has been delayed. The release date is yet to be announced.

Dust 514 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii) – Release Date: TBA

CCP Game’s upcoming MMOFPS, Dust 514, is a wild concept in the MMORPG industry. Not only is it a first-person shooter, but it will be intricately tied to the EVE Online universe, which has an entirely different style of gameplay. Best of all, the game is upcoming for consoles – PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii. Watch the trailer here and all will be explained – the gameplay footage is un-rendered. The game received the Unreal Engine 3 license on March, 10th, 2010.

Dust 514

In EVE Online, player owned corporations and alliances wage war in the depths of space but Dust 514 will bring the fights onto planets. Players in Dust can be hired as mercenaries and “assist” EVE players in taking over territory, and this relationship goes much deeper than what can be seen on the surface. The sandbox will be more explosive than ever. Though there are few details announced, the possibilities are endless. Confirmed features like customizable vehicles, a form of player housing, and the position of Commander (who gets an RTS view) make it clear that the game will be huge. There are no classes, but instead specialization depends on the choices players make. The game will use a microtransaction model rather than a monthly based subscription like in EVE.

EVE Online: Incarna (PC) – Release Date: Summer 2011

EVE Online’s expansions have always been free and have implemented vast changes to gameplay over the years. The Incarna expansion (the 15th expansion), scheduled to release sometime in the summer of 2011, will follow up on the Incursion expansion (November 2010). Incarna represents what CCP Games has been working on for a long time – walking in stations (Ambulation), a 3D Tactical Map of the universe, the ability to run shops inside stations, and even meetings that players can hold with new recruits and diplomats. There will be new mini-games such as gambling, player-made clothing, and in-depth customization of character avatars. No more will the EVE universe only be limited to control of spaceships.

Incarna

Incursion (14th), the next expansion, will introduce the long-awaited character creator and improvements to the planetary interaction mode. It’s clear the developers are keen on integrating Dust 514 into the game as soon as possible and they are adding many graphical and performance enhancements as well. As a whole it is a great step forward for the franchise and for the MMORPG industry. Creative director Torfi Frans Olafsson stated, “Essentially, it’s the transition from EVE being ‘the space game’ to EVE becoming ‘the ultimate sci-fi world’.”

Honorable Mention

Blizzard’s Top Secret Next-Gen MMORPG

Technically, Blizzard’s top secret MMORPG has no official title. What we do know is that it exists and it will be a brand new IP. That means it’s not a Starcraft or Diablo MMOG as most people would think. Activision Blizzard has gained much experience and revenue with World of Warcraft, which has already pushed past 12 million subscribers. Wouldn’t another MMOG split the userbase? Ironically, it may be the WoW-killer the world has been waiting for.

6 Most Bizarre Religions and Cults in the World

Some people find it hard to believe that these strange registered churches and cults even exist. Here are the top 6 most bizarre religions and cults in the world, noted for their wild origins and sometimes destructive (but humorous) beliefs. They are simply a few out of hundreds from all around the world that deviate from the more ‘mainstream’ religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

The Church of Maradona – Honoring Football and D10S

The Church of Maradona was created by extremely devotional Argentinean fans to honor the football player, Diego Maradona, who they strictly believe is the greatest football player in the history of the sport.

The ‘Church’ was started by a few fans from the city of Rosario on the player’s 38th birthday (October 30th, 1998). Three years later it had its first major gathering and to date, there are over 100,000 members from all around the world.

What do followers of the Church of Maradona practice? All followers count the years since the player’s birth in 1960 and call him D10S, which translates to “Dios”, the Spanish word for God. The number “10” correlates to Maradona’s jersey number. Members of the bizarre religion use ‘AB’ for “After Birth” to measure time. So as of now, the year would be considered 60 AB (After Birth). There are also ten commandments, some of which include “Let Diego be thy name, and thy one of your children,” “Declare your unconditional love of football,” and “The ball must not be stained, as D10S has proclaimed.”

Pastafarians – The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Few religions have been as popular as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, easily one of the most bizarre religions in the world. It is a ‘parody’ religion created by Bobby Henderson in 2005.

After the Kansas State Board of Education ruled to include intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in school curriculum, Henderson decided to introduce a supernatural creator (the spaghetti monster) that technically fits the profile of ‘God’ and used it to show that the intelligent designer (which has always been ambiguous) can be anything. In this case, it was a flying spaghetti monster. Since then, the bizarre church became one of the most widely used arguments against the teaching of intelligent design in schools.

Pastafarian

Believers (Pastafarians) treat the Church as a legitimate religion and the core belief is that there is an invisible force (the monster) that created the universe after “drinking heavily.” Other beliefs include that all the evidence for evolution was planted by the Spaghetti monster and that Hell consists of stale beer and that all the strippers within it have STDs. Pastafarians also have an event called “Holiday” during the Christmas season – with no specific date or requirement of customs. This is a satirical rejection of dogma and centralized belief structure – another reason why this religion, though bizarre, has been instrumental in the culture war between science and religion.

Before criticizing this Church, consider that it is just as absurd as the alternative mainstream choices, and it says so in a statement on the cover of the ‘cult’ movement’s new book, The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster: “If you don’t like us, your old religion will most likely take you back.”

Bobby Henderson simply did what a lot of people wanted to do but did not think was possible.

Scientology – How Bizarre Can Bizarre Get?

Scientology has received a lot of controversy and has been spoofed countless times, such as in South Park. The reality is that Scientology’s beliefs are just as empirically obsolete as many of today’s major religions. Except that its beliefs are even stranger than commonly held ones by modern society. But is it a bizarre religion or a bizarre cult?

Well, for one, Scientology is exempt from tax in the United States and other countries, which is one of the perks religions get. In Canada, the Church isn’t recognized and Germany decided to ban the organization because it believed it served a more commercial purpose and conflicted with the German Constitution.

Scientology

A few facts. Scientology was created by L. Ron Hubbard in 1952. The central belief is that all people are immortal spiritual entities that no longer remember their true ‘nature.’ Followers seek to relive forgotten past events to free themselves from limitation through spiritual rehabilitation called auditing. Some of these services have been criticized for being fraudulent to its members in terms of costs and that the beliefs (such as thetans, or souls, which lived on different planets before Earth and reincarnate) are too peculiar to be remotely possible. Many have defined Scientology as a cult instead. The Church even regards psychiatry as “destructive” and that it must be abolished.

If a religion or cult leads people to believe things like that, perhaps more controversy is better. Religions may have gone on different paths but the ideal religion should not demand monetary payment for spiritual resolution.

Jediism – The Force in the 21st Century

Come on, practically every fan of Star Wars once had the idea – what if there was an actual religion for all Jedi to follow? A code of conduct based on the laws of the Force that fit the struggles of everyday life on planet Earth. Well, Jediism exists. It’s a bizarre religion since it takes root from a fictional philosophical code from a science fiction movie made over thirty years ago.

Jediism as a faith is as viable as any modern religion, considering the central dogma of the Light side. Followers of Jediism ponder on the Dark side as well as the Potentium Theory of the Force (the ‘gray’ area), which states that there is no Dark or Light side at all and that the actions of individuals are dependent on his own morality. The code has arguably been like a blend between Buddhism and Taoism. Many of these lessons apply realistically to life and the fact is that there are thousands of followers of the Church of Jediism.

There are three aspects of the Force – the Personal Force, the Living Force, and the Unifying Force. Perhaps the message behind the religion is how similar these aspects are to real physics (even theoretical physics). In January of 2008, the Holyhead chapter of the Jedi Church was founded, started by Barney and Daniel Jones. It is said to have up to 400,000 members, and it’s simply one church out of many around the world.

The Church of Euthanasia – How to Kill Yourself

Now here’s a religious cult that differs from the rest on this list. Bizarre? Check. Dangerous? Double check. The Church of Euthanasia was founded by Reverend Chris Korda from Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The main goal of the organization is to highlight the fact that the world’s population is unsustainable.

But how exactly does that work? The Church (main website) asserts voluntary means to reduce the human population. This means involuntary methods like murder are forbidden but suicide, abortion, cannibalism, and sodomy are its four principle pillars. No wonder why they get into so much controversy with the public, especially pro-life Christians.

Church of Euthanasia

Well, they’re right. Humans do need to figure out a way to sustain population and keep the ecosystem protected. But after the Church placed instructions on “how to kill yourself” (by asphyxiation using helium gas) on its main website in 2003, a 52 year old woman from St. Louis, Missouri ended up committing suicide. Ensuing legal threats forced them to remove the instructions.

The goals make sense but the methods will have trouble being accepted by the world.

Aum Shinrikyo (Aleph) – Terrorist Cult

Aum Shinrikyo, founded by Shoko Asahara (currently awaiting execution) in 1984, is one of the most dangerous cults. The group carried out a sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subways in 1995, making them infamous to most of the world instantly. The members of the cult were frequently accused of holding followers against their wills and forcing them to pay donations. The cult’s headquarters (located in Kamikuishiki) contained explosives, biological warfare weapons (such as the Ebola virus), and others. But the most dangerous item was the stockpiles of chemicals that could have produced enough sarin gas to kill four million people. Luckily, they were discovered by police.Cult of Doom

The cult has been labeled as a terrorist group by several nations, such as the United States, Canada, and the EU. Not all cults are harmless after all. This one is an example of how powerful and far-reaching a group of people can get.

References

Cowan, Douglas E.; Bromley, David G. (2006), The Church of Scientology. In Gallagher, Eugene V.; Ashcraft, W. Michael (eds.) (2006), Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America, 5, Westport CT: Greenwood Press, pp. 169-196, ISBN 0-275-98712-4

Cohen, David (23 October 2006). “Tom’s aliens target City’s ‘planetary rulers'”. Evening Standard.

Alexander Kouzminov Biological Espionage: Special Operations of the Soviet and Russian Foreign Intelligence Services in the West, Greenhill Books, 2006, ISBN 1-853-67646-2 [1]. Kuzminov, who is defector from the biological weapons department of the KGB, asks why Aum Shinrikyo were allowed to open an office on Flotskaya Street in Moscow, where many offices of KGB/FSK were secretly located. The sect was also allowed to operate freely on Moscow TV.

Top Upcoming MMORPGs of 2009-2011

The online gaming industry is booming as more people begin to see the benefits of dynamic gameplay, social communities, and fresh content. There is much untapped potential in the MMORPG platform because it is still a relatively new way of experiencing popular franchises. There are many top MMORPGs upcoming in 2009 and beyond. Online games of the future will continue to build up on their predecessors and truly achieve the next-generation status. Here are the most anticipated MMORPGs to be released. Gameplay features and release dates are subject to change.

Stargate Worlds – Release Date: Q4 2009

Stargate Worlds will be based on the hit television show, Stargate SG-1. An MMORPG game placed in a science-fiction universe of this magnitude has been long desired by fans worldwide. The storyline will highlight the earlier seasons of the show and the main setting at release will be the Milky Way Galaxy. The war between Goa’uld and the Tau’ri rages on, one of many conflicts between races in the show.

Stargate Worlds

Players will be able to choose certain archetypes, which operate differently from other traditional MMORPGs. There is no particular ‘tank’ class or ‘healer’ class. Instead, a highly flexible tech tree can be used to customize your character in endless ways. Each archetype will have three specialization trees that give the player the ability to have hybrid roles. Combat will emphasize first-person shooter concepts and tactical gameplay. The weapons will be diverse and the enemy AI will prove to be a challenge.

Aion: The Tower of Eternity – Release Date: Q4 2009

Aion: The Tower of Eternity is one of the most anticipated MMORPGs to come out in 2009. Released in Korea, the game went on to win “Best Korean Game of the Year” in 2008, praised for its epic scale and incredible graphics. Following critical acclaim and popularity in Asia, the North American version of the game will be launched in the US in late 2009.

Aion Tower of Eternity

Based in a dream fantasy universe, Aion incorporates never-before seen features such as the ability to fly and even fight while flying. With the power of the CryEngine, there are breath-taking visuals and diverse environments. Avatars are highly customizable (adjustable height, facial features, weight, hair styles, skin tones, tattoos, and more) and the PvP system rewards you “points” for killing fellow players. As you win more battles and lay waste to your enemies, your wings will change appearance, your rank will grow, and you can purchase powerful gear with the points you earn.

There are a total of twelve classes and eight professions in the game (production and gathering), giving your character many styles of play. Do not miss this one.

Champions Online – Release Date: July 14th, 2009

Champions Online is the next-gen MMO project headed by the creators of City of Heroes. It will be the first MMORPG to allow PC gamers and Xbox 360 gamers to play together at the same time. The combat will be real-time and fast paced, but with elements of strategy still in place.

It is the extensive customizability of characters in this game that makes it one to look forward to. The number of things you can do to create your character is unparalled in today’s industry. You can edit the way your character moves (a ‘wolf’-like superhero would travel on all fours) and even alter the forms and colors of special abilities, such as heat rays.

Champions Online

Combat is all about action and focuses on strategic offensive moves as well as defensive moves (such as block). These actions can be mapped on four buttons (block as a shoulder button). Your hero character must protect Millennium City and become a harbinger of justice. But here’s a twist. Every player can create his or her own custom arch-nemesis (similar to your hero character’s creation), who appears at different points of the player’s career. Champions Online is confirmed for release on July 14th, 2009.

DC Universe Online – TBA 2010

DC Universe Online is another super-hero based action MMORPG, with one of the most popular comic franchises in the world behind it. You can battle alongside superheroes and villains such as Batman, The Joker, Superman, Wonder Woman, and others. Players can create their own personal heroes (or you can take the darker path as a villain) within the full scope of the DC universe.

DC Universe Online

You will have the ability to have a Justice League or Legion of Doom communicator based on your allegiance, which will determine how NPCs and other players will react to you. DC Universe Online is scheduled for release between late 2009 and early 2010. It will pit all the forces of the DC universe in an action-packed online game – who will emerge victorious?

Star Trek Online – Release Date: TBA 2009-2010

Star Trek Online, being developed by Cryptic Studios, will depict the future of the Star Trek universe. It will have new worlds, civilizations, and a huge universe of the cosmos to explore. You will get a chance to be a captain and commandeer your own spaceship. In addition, you can lead a number of crewmen (NPC controlled). Fans of the hit series should not miss this title because there will be many references to major characters, locations, and other famous storylines in the game.

Star Trek Online

On the ground, the combat will be fast paced, and in space, players can use many tactical positions to find strengths and weaknesses in enemy ships (as well as smart balance between using weapons and shielding). The game world will be massive enough that players can explore uncharted territory and discover new planets. An ingame Galactic Economy will also be present, which is reminiscent of EVE Online.

Star Wars: The Old Republic – Release Date: TBA 2009-2010

Star Wars: The Old Republic, being developed by Bioware, is possibly the most anticipated MMORPG of 2009. It will be the newest online game based on the Star Wars universe; its setting takes place 300 years after the events of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series.

The conflict between the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire has escalated, giving players the chance to join either side but also the chance to determine their own moralities in a complex universe. There will be a class system (Bounty Hunter has been announced, exclusive to the Sith Empire) and players will be able to choose NPC-controlled ‘companion’ characters that form up the party. Conversations and actions you take influence these companions, developing the ongoing story of your character itself.

Star Wars The Old Republic

Every class will have its own storyline and there will be many planets and cities to explore, such as Coruscant. The hype is high and Bioware has stated that there is more content in the game than all currently released Bioware games “combined”.

Guild Wars 2 – Release Date: TBA 2010-2011

Guild Wars 2 is the upcoming sequel to the hit MMORPG Guild Wars, being developed by ArenaNet. It will be radically different from the first title, such as giving the player the ability to move in all three dimensions and interact with a dynamic environment (breaking obstacles and even setting things on fire).

Guild Wars 2

There will be four new playable races and other features, such as a persistent world; unlike the instanced-based system of the original (but there will still be instanced areas for the main plot). World-scale PvP will be one of the major aspects of the game. While players cannot transfer their characters from Guild Wars to Guild Wars 2, the names they’ve chosen will be available to use again. Players will also be able to port achievements they won in the previous title to the sequel.

Jumpgate Evolution – Release Date: June 23rd, 2009

Jumpgate:Evolution is the upcoming MMORPG sequel to Jumpgate: The Reconstructive Initiative, being developed by NetDevil. There have been major improvements to gameplay and a new graphics engine has been implemented.

Jumpgate Evolution

Players can ‘jump’ to brand new locations and face looming threats in space, such as pirates and members of the opposing faction. This time low-tier PCs can run the visuals and play smoother than before. In addition to the increased accessibility, players can use joysticks to enhance the gameplay experience. You can play as one of three nations and fight epic battles in space with thousands of players in real-time. There are no classes in the game and combat will be twitch-based.

Earthrise – Release Date: H2 2009

Headed by Masthead Studios, Earthrise encompasses a great clash between two factions – the authoritarian corporate government and the rebellious order known as the Noir. There will be a player-driven economy, a skill-based character system, and a robust PvP system (with elements of a 1st person shooter game from a 3rd person perspective).Earthrise

It is a post-apocalyptic world where players will have the chance to shape the new beginning of mankind or create a powerful dystopia. Other notable gameplay features include a complex crafting system and even an offline progression mode which allows you to increase your scientific knowledge, earn income, and become immersed in the social facet of the game.

Fallout Online (Project V13) – Release Date: TBA

The post-apocalyptic setting never gets old and few franchises have depicted it better than the Fallout series. Project V13 (Fallout Online) is the codename for this upcoming MMORPG (also known as Fallout Online), though it’s not yet officially announced.

Fallout Online

The game is currently being developed by Interplay and Masthead Studios, including Chris Taylor, one of the creators of Fallout. Little is known about the game so far but the potential scope of an MMORPG set in this particular universe makes it a highly anticipated release. It will utilize the same engine as Earthrise (also being developed by Masthead Studios) and will most likely integrate the characteristic SPECIAL system of the series to determine the skills, abilities, and specializations of player characters. Some things are guaranteed to be in for sure – ghouls, super mutants, nuclear radiation, and explosive battles.

Untitled Next-Gen Square Enix MMORPG (Rapture) – Release Date: TBA

Rapture is the codename for the new MMORPG currently under development by Square Enix. Little is known about the project and it is not confirmed whether or not it will be a sequel to Final Fantasy XI or even related to the Final Fantasy series. It has been announced that the Untitled Square Enix MMORPG will be released on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Vista-running PCs. The title will run on the Crystal Tools game engine, built by Square Enix, which allows high-scale CGI graphics to be rendered in real-time, with the potential to “recreate battle scenes reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children,” as stated by Tetsuya Nomura.

Untitled Next-Gen Blizzard MMORPG – Release Date: TBA

After the monumental success of World of Warcraft (over 11 million subscribers), it’s surprising Blizzard has resources left to create another MMORPG. The question is: how can they follow up on such a breakthrough? However, the Untitled Next-Gen Blizzard MMORPG has been announced to exist but very little information is known about it.

Jeff Kaplan, a lead game designer of World of Warcraft, posted in the official forums that he has redirected his time to the “upcoming, unannounced MMO.” Mike Morhaime, the CEO of Blizzard, confirmed that it will not be a sequel to WoW and stated, “It’s gonna be different.”

Top 5 Upcoming PS3 Games of 2009

Every year, video games keep getting better as game developers learn the ways of the industry, seeing what works and what doesn’t. In terms of raw power, the PlayStation 3 is the most powerful video game console, but games continue to be released on it that offer a next-generation experience in their own ways. 2009 for PS3 games is all about offering a cinematic presentation, but that’s not to say games won’t also be judged for their styles of gameplay, story and replay value. Many franchises are making a return with their first installments on the PS3 console.

Here are the top 5 upcoming PS3 games of 2009.

Bioshock 2: Sea of Dreams – Release Date: Q4 2009

Bioshock won critical acclaim for its ability to masterfully blend a cinematic first-person shooter experience with an engaging story. Playing like an RPG, the premise of the game was giving the player many ways to impact the surrounding environment. In addition to stealth and turning robotic probes against your enemies, you can use special powers gained from using plasmids to wreak havoc on anything you don’t like.

An example of Bioshock’s combat? You can set a swarm of stinging bees on an enemy splicer and wait for him to run into a pool of water to get them off. Then you can unleash an electrical storm on him for bonus damage while he’s wet. Or you can just set him on fire instead to make him run into the water; you’ll be surprised of what you can think of on the spot. Another strategy is to set an enemy on fire and launch a heat-seeking missile at him. Physics takes care of the rest.

Bioshock 2

The amount of different ways you can kill depends on your imagination and your personal choices, namely good and evil. And these choices you make when you come across the Big Daddies and Little Sisters will influence the direction of the story, including the very end.

Now Bioshock 2: Sea of Dreams is upcoming for PS3 (and also on PC and Xbox 360) and the hype is in the air. Can it fulfill the expectations of being a sequel for a Game of the Year nominated shooter by IGN? Bioshock 2 will be released late in 2009 and its official website has the latest details on the story and gameplay features. You can watch the official trailer for Bioshock 2 at GameSpot.com.

And if that’s not enough pressure, the franchise has become a trilogy, with Bioshock 3 being announced as well, most likely to coincide with the live action Bioshock film release (directed by Gore Verbinski).

God of War III – Release Date: Q4 2009

The God of War franchise made the PlayStation 2 even better than it already was, with an epic action-packed adventure that combined many elements of Greek mythology to form an excellent story. The game raised the bar for action video games and gave a whole new meaning to running around in massive dynamic environments hacking mythological monsters to bloody pieces. Kratos became an action anti-hero, leading the first God of War to be named as the greatest PS2 game of all time by IGN.

God of War III is slated for release for late 2009, exclusively on the PS3, and will continue the story where Kratos left off at the end of God of War II. There is more on the line this time as you have to lead the Titans against Mount Olympus itself. The game will run at 1080p HD resolution and boasts a script of 120 pages. The gameplay will be better now with the power of the PlayStation 3, with more monsters on the screen simultaneously, seamless rendered environments, and a more robust combat system. A new God of War movie is also slated as a project, to be directed by Brett Rattner.

Tekken 6 – Release Date: Q3 2009

Tekken is one of the most popular fighting video game franchises and Tekken 6 will take it to the next level, being the first installment of the series on the PlayStation 3 (it will also be available on Xbox 360). It will have the most playable characters in a Tekken game to date (42 total), with many elements of gameplay from the previous games of the series retained. Every frame of animation has been altered, stages will have night and day variants, there will be an online multiplayer mode, and even customizable costumes for characters. The health bar will be larger now that you have the ability to use items against your opponent and the new ‘rage’ combat system.

Like many video games these days, Tekken is being adapted into a movie to be directed by Dwight H. Little.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena – Release Date: April 7th, 2009

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay is a sci-fi first-person shooter game based on the movie, Pitch Black, which starred Vin Diesel. However, the critics praised the video game as being much better than the actual movie. Now the sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, will bring back Vin Diesel on a new campaign, which will include the campaign of the first game. It will have improved graphics, enemy AI, and a new multiplayer mode. You have to break out of the galaxy’s most deadly prison and you have an arsenal of skills and heightened sensory abilities to help you do it.

The game will also be released on Xbox 360 and PC.

Prototype – Release Date: June 2009

Few sandbox-style action games have an extraordinary concept like Prototype, being developed by Radical Entertainment. You take control of Alex Mercer, with no memory of your past or who you are. With superhuman abilities and shape-shifting (taking on traits of enemies you have ‘consumed’) and 750 unique combinations of powers, you can do quite a lot in game, which is set in the city of New York.

Players will be able to run through the city and overcome obstacles in a parkour-inspired way. You can run at super speeds, jump very far distances, absorb memories, knowledge, and biomass of enemies you defeat, and many other things. There is much expected of this game simply because of the interactive combat gameplay and all the unique ways you can complete a mission objective. Prototype will be released in the summer of 2009, also on Xbox 360 and PC.

Top 5 Upcoming Xbox 360 Games of 2009

The year of 2009 is already set for some of the best gaming titles to be released in a long time. There will be high octane gun blazing action, brand new immersive RPG universes, and everything in between for the Xbox 360 this year. Popular franchises will be making a return with stand alone titles and even the comic genre may reach a never before seen standard in the video game industry.

Here are the top 5 upcoming Xbox 360 games of 2009.

Halo 3: ODST (aka Halo: Recon) – Release Date: Q3 2009

Halo 3: ODST will be the latest addition to the Halo series, offering a different perspective to the gameplay in the science fiction universe. You will no longer control Master Chief. Instead, you are a lone Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, one of Earth’s most elite soldiers of the UNSC (they are known as the “Hell Jumpers”). Although you don’t have Master Chief’s reflexes, super strength, and combat awareness, you must battle the Covenant in the city of New Mombasa with all the skills you have – stealth included (but it is not strictly a stealth game). The setting takes place during the events of Halo 2, after the devastating invasion of the city. Although the gameplay resembles the previous Halo games, it will be a completely new perspective. Through the eyes of an average Joe elite solider trying to save the Earth from certain destruction.

Halo 3 ODST

No Halo title is complete without a solid online multiplayer mode. Players can save films and screenshots, compete in Campaign scoring, and even play the game on four-player co-op mode. Maps can be created with the Forge editor, in addition to the 24 maps already in the game. This Xbox 360 game is not to be missed – it will be released in the autumn of 2009.

Batman: Arkham Asylum – Release Date: June 9th, 2009 (also on PC and PS3)

Batman: Arkham Asylum is an upcoming action-adventure game coming this summer, taking the DC Universe to platforms like never before. Despite the terrible reputation video games have in their quest to become movies, this Xbox 360 title may break the trend and emerge as the ultimate Batman game. After the critically acclaimed blockbuster The Dark Knight hit theaters in late 2008, there are heavy expectations for this game, regardless of the story and setting.

Batman: Arkham Asylum will be based on the long-time ‘comic mythos’ of the infamous Arkham Asylum, an iconic prison in the DC Universe. The story begins after Batman captures The Joker, following an attack he made on the Gotham prison. This leads to many sane convicts being sent to Arkham Asylum – enemies of the comic hero. The Joker then sets a trap for Batman within the prison, leaving him trapped and vulnerable to Gotham’s worst supervillains, all seeking cold vengeance against the caped crusader.

The script is written by Emmy-award winning Batman writer Paul Dini and the game will feature other high profile villains, such as Mr. Freeze, The Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Bane, Killer Moth, and The Riddler. Unlike Batman games in the past, Arkham Asylum is going to revolve around most of the 70 year old series instead of being restricted to a particular adaptation. To escape death, you will have to use Batman’s combat prowess and all of his legendary detective skills. Don’t miss it.

Dragon Age: Origins – Release Date: Q4 2009 (also on PC and PS3)

There is much expected of this upcoming RPG game by Bioware. This company’s last stand alone RPG title was Mass Effect, which played like a third-person shooter RPG hybrid (with the ability to pause the screen, give commands to your squad teammates, and unleash biotic abilities on enemies). Bioware has never released a game set in a medieval fantasy universe – yet. Dragon Age: Origins will be their latest release and the expectations are set high.

Players will be able to choose from three base classes – Rogue, Warrior, or Mage, but you will have an individual ‘origin’ story that will affect the story of the entire game. Gameplay is in real time, similar to Mass Effect, and you will have the ability to pause and issue tactical commands to your party members, who are all major characters to the storyline. Your decisions in quests matter because a simple moral choice (which is more complicated than the beaten to death ‘good and evil’) can influence the way NPCs react to you. Certain rewards can only be attained if you make the right choices. And by right, I don’t mean morally.

Your character’s origin and character background is chosen by you and every action you take affects the dynamic environment. The dialogue continues to be integral, like in all Bioware games. What you say to world NPCs and party members you meet can make them friends or enemies. Dragon Age: Origins will be released late in 2009. All dates are not yet official and are subject to change.

Mafia II – Release Date: 2nd Half of 2009

The Grand Theft Auto series defined the sand-box style crime action genre for a long time but there have been critically acclaimed Xbox 360 titles that showed the industry that there’s room for more. Like all video games, developers know that the bar must always be raised. Mafia II is the upcoming sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, which has been rated at 9.3/10 and called one of the best games of the year in 2002 by GameSpot when it was released.

The setting of Mafia II takes place in the 1940s and 1950s, in Empire City (based on New York City and San Francisco). Hand to hand combat will be smoother, the car chases and gun fights will be bigger, and the story will feel like a Hollywood crime drama epic. You assume the role of Vito Scaletta, an Italian American (born to Sicilian family) with his ambitions set on rising through the ranks of organized crime with his childhood friend, Joe Barbaro, and propelling his family dynasty to true wealth and power. Vito returns from World War II and the epic begins as he reunites with old friends and acquaintances, including enemies such as the Falconi, Vinci, and Clemente crime families. There are different endings to the story and how you finish your saga depends on you and your choices.

Mafia II will contain two hours of in-game cut scenes and 700 pages of script, nearly twice as much as the original game. The writer of the first game has declared it as a tribute to old-time gangster movies, and that the premise will be darker and grittier – based on reality.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – Release Date: Q4 2009 (also on PC and PS3)

The Call of Duty series has dominated the WWII first-person shooter genre with great emphasis on realism of history, events, and weapons of the 1940s. Even though the WWII market has been saturated for years, there are a few titles that excel, especially online, where thousands of players all across the world can use all their skills and tactical abilities to survive in the true realism of war. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is one of the greatest best-sellers of all time for PC, appealing to this generation. Featuring an engaging story, memorable characters (such as the legendary Captain Price), and highly dynamic war environments, there was no surprise it became the top selling game in the world in 2007.

Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will continue the modern setting and possibly follow up on the thrilling conclusion of the first game. Does it have what it takes to live up to the original and re-revolutionize the first person shooter genre? The online multiplayer mode itself cannot be missed. Be ready for it this holiday season of 2009. Remember, all dates are subject to change.

Transformers the Movie (1986) – Classic 80’s Movie Review

The Defining Generation of Classic Animation of the 1980s

It should be a crime not to know the full impact of the Transformers franchise in Western animation in the 1980s. The television series garnered the loyalty of millions of fans – both kids and adults – worldwide. With legendary characters like Optimus Prime and an epic battle between good and evil between the Autobots and the Decepticons, what’s not to love?

Transformers the Movie – The Eighties Movie Review

Transformers the Movie (1986) is one of the greatest classic movies of the eighties, when animation was on still on the rise to mainstream audiences (and arguably had better quality and darker themes). Not only is it a defining cinematic presentation of the franchise, the movie has one of the greatest metal soundtracks. Just watching the movie and listening to the music triggers some major nostalgia, especially if grew up during that era.

When the movie was released in the 80s, it failed to achieve mainstream success. However, it is one of the most critically acclaimed animated cult movies, having a loyal fan base to this day.

Transformers the Movie

The Storyline

The plot of Transformers the Movie bridges the gap between season two and season three of the television cartoon series. Unicron, a gigantic artificial planet that literally eats other planets, becomes a major threat to Earth and everything on it. The war between the Autobots and the Decepticons escalates to never before seen lengths (such as the famous descisive battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron). The Autobot Matrix of Leadership becomes the only way to stop Unicron from destroying the universe. The movie makes great leaps in its style, having a much darker tone than the television series. It’s also not easy to stomach the deaths of the major characters of the story (who have been there since the very beginning). It was said that many cried in the theaters.

Critics didn’t like that the movie drastically changed the direction of the entire franchise, but it was all for the better. All the events, thrills, and twists have a purpose and the emotional attachment you gain for the characters amplifies the impact of each scene. From the opening scene in which Unicron devastates an entire planet and all its robot inhabitants to the nerve-wracking battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron, to the final climatic clash of all sides and Unicron in deep space… this movie does not fail to appease the nostalgic 80’s fan. Since this is a 80’s movie review, it would defeat the purpose if this cult classic doesn’t bring the memories flooding back.

80’s Music Redefined

And who could forget the distinctive metal soundtrack that defines the movie? The experience would never be the same without songs like “The Touch” by Stan Bush, “Nothing’s Gonna Stand in Our Way” by Spectre General, and other big names from the 1980s. The Transformers the Movie: Original Motion Soundtrack can be bought here at Amazon.com.

Why Was Transformers the Movie a Classic 80s Movie?

It has all the elements – great 80’s music, nostalgic memories of animation years ago, and a testament to being the first true movie of a legendary franchise. It also features the final roles of Orson Welles (voice of Unicron) and Scatman Crothers (voice of Jazz) before their deaths – both have perfectly captured the essence of their characters’ voices in the film. Transformers the Movie is not without its flaws but there’s something for everyone – comedy, action, adventure, and a truly original story.

Where to Buy the Transformers the Movie DVD and Soundtrack?

5 Deadliest Killer Ant Species in the World

Ants – Armies of One

Ants are one of the most successful species in Earth’s history, having been here for over a hundred million years. They colonized every continent except Antarctica (long before us) and are one of the best known species to act as superorganisms – which means to take action in mass numbers toward the common benefit of the colony. Their specialized divisions in class and the way they work together resemble humans but some species of killer ants have biological weaponry powerful enough to kill many of us every year. Out of the 12,000 species of ants currently classified at Harvard University, these five are the deadliest not just to humans but to larger animals and ecosystems where they are invasive.

Fire Ants

Fire Ant

Fire ants (0.24 inches long) have been a widespread problem in the United States after they were accidentally introduced in the 1930s. Known for their large ant mound colonies and aggressive nature, they attack in swarms following pheromones released by the first ant’s sting. So if you are stung once, you are bound to get attacked by the entire colony if you can’t get away quick enough. Small animals such as birds and even larger mammals like newborn calves often become victims because they cannot escape in time before they are devoured en masse.

Fire ant stings are sharp, immediate, and induce a burning irritation – hence the name “fire” ant. The pain of the sting is listed on the Schmidt Pain Index with a rating of 1.2; painful but not the worst. The venom causes white pustules to show up on the skin twenty four hours after being injected. To date the species is an ongoing pest problem because it is highly resistant to methods of control and it can adapt to many changing environmental conditions. Some humans are sensitive to the venom and may die from anaphylactic shock in minutes if left untreated.

Argentine Ants

Argentine Ants

The Argentine ant (1/10 inch long) is highly social ant species, known for extensive organization of its colonies. In fact, the ants are so genetically similar that individual ants can walk into a range of nearby colonies without being killed for intrusion. Merged supercolonies are destructive, especially if near human settlements. The problem with Argentine ants is that they are among the world’s top 100 animal invaders, known for killing off competing ant species in non-native geographical areas, such as in Australia. In the article linked above, the scientists state that an Argentine ant supercolony thousands of miles wide can form across southern Australia if the native ants of that region have the same genetic makeup and behavior.

As pests they have a tendency to enter human built structures in search of food and even form colonies. Killing off a single queen to solve the problem won’t work because Argentine ants typically have eight queens for every 1,000 workers. Spraying pesticides only increases the rate of eggs the queens lay so that’s not recommended. To humans, these ants are of medical importance, because they have the potential to carry disease causing pathogens into hospitals.

Siafu Ants (also known as the Driver ant or the Army ant)

The Siafu ants (Army ants) of Western Africa and the Congo have functional stings but the reason why they’re notorious is because of their razor-sharp cutting mandibles, which you just can’t miss if you saw a picture of one. The colonies are made up of different classes making up enormous colonies and the queen Siafu ant holds the record for being the largest ant in the world.

Army Ant Jaws

The ants march through the forests in groups of millions, eating anything that moves and severely impacting the local environment (even elephants run from them). The term “killer ant” usually applies to this species simply because of the magnitude of the colony sizes (over 20 million individuals). When in large transit, the ants travel in long columns on the forest floor, with the stronger class of ants on opposite sides flanking in ready position – jaws ready. They are so strong in fact, that you can tear the ant in two after it bit into your skin and its jaw will still be locked in position. In East Africa, emergency situations call for using the actual jaws of the Siafu ants as ‘stitches’, sealing off open wounds.

The reason why this species is so deadly is the fact that the ants are virtually unstoppable as they move together in full force. Anything that gets in the way is eaten to the bone – no exceptions. The columns are easy to avoid but sometimes they come across human homes, in which case the potential to kill becomes greater.

Bulldog Ants (also called Jack Jumpers)

Bulldog ants reign from Australia and are among the largest ant species in the world, growing over 40 mm long. Their appearance alone is enough to tell you they are deadly and capable of killing. Bulldog ant is also one of the oldest ant species, with its closest relative only found in fossils.

Even scarier is the numerous predatory skills they have compared to other ant species, such as excellent vision (they can spot and follow you from a meter away), highly painful stings that can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people, and they are very aggressive to intruders, including humans. This combination makes them responsible for the deaths of people every year in Australia.

Bullet Ants

Bullet ants of South America are known to have the most painful sting of insects on the entire planet, rated at the highest of the Schmidt Pain Index at 4.0+. The name of the ant is derived from the intense 24-hour pain the venom from the stings cause. Bullet ants are also giants, ranging from 18 to 25 mm long (1 inch). The venom is highly neurotoxic, causing excruciating pain when injected into mammal smooth muscle. When attacked, these killer ants release a musky order, swarm together to defend against the intruders, and literally grab and sting them to death.

Some tribes in South America knock out the bullet ants with natural chloroform and weave them into the inside of gloves, stingers outward. The boys must wear the gloves and endure every single sting from the awakening bullet ants for ten full minutes without screaming. This is part of the initiation into manhood and a boy cannot truly ‘become a man’ until he completes this ritual 20 times. After each ordeal, the arms become paralyzed and quiver for days.

References:

Tatiana Giraud, Jes S. Pedersen, and Laurent Keller, “Evolution of supercolonies: The Argentine ants of southern Europe,” PNAS April 30, 2002, Vol. 99, no. 9, 6075-6079.

Harris, R J (2002) Potential impact of the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) in New Zealand and options for its control. Science for Conservation 196 PDF

Fowler, H.G.; Bueno, O.C.; Sadatsune, T.; Montelli, A.C. 1993: Ants as potential vectors of pathogens in hospitals in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Insect Science and its Application 14: 367-370.

Forbes McGain and Kenneth D. Winkel (2002) Ant sting mortality in Australia Toxicon. 40(8):1095-1100

Star Wars: The Old Republic – First New Gameplay Video Documentary

The excitement is rising indefinitely with the announcement of the first ever video footage of Star Wars: The Old Republic, the new Star Wars MMORPG being developed by Bioware. Even though it is regarded as the worst kept secret in the online game industry, the developers released very few details about the game’s classes, professions, and combat gameplay after its announcement.

In a new article at the official Star Wars: The Old Republic website, it is stated that Lucas Arts and Bioware are going to release the first in-game footage in the form of a video documentary. It will be put on the site on December 12th, 2008, as part of their weekly Friday update.

 

Combat in KotOR will have an influence on TORs gameplay.

Latest News – Video Documentary, Never Before Seen Footage, and New Screenshots

The prospect of a new gameplay video will answer many questions of MMORPG fans.

8 classes have been announced and only two factions are known – Republic and Sith. New screenshots were also released after upgrading the graphics and fixing the concerns of many fans in the community forums. What the eight classes are, nobody knows. That information is still slated for release, hopefully it will be given by the new video footage in the documentary.

-Players will have a spectrum of the Light and Dark sides of the Force where they fall under. The choices players make in the game, especially the morally difficult ones, will determine their moral attunement to the Force.

-The new in-game video will most definitely feature combat. The developers have said that the combat will be “real-time” but did not give any specific details on the pace of the fights and how much of a factor twitch-skills matter in winning against players in PvP and monsters in the Star Wars wild environment.

-It isn’t news that the combat in Star Wars: The Old Republic will have extensive graphics and visuals, with interlocking lightsabers and reacting physics. Based on reviews and reports of those who have seen the in-game footage of TOR when it was first announced in October 21st, 2008, it’s safe to say that it is going to bring a lot of excitement to MMO-based combat.

One of the original screenshots released in October 21st, 2008.

One of the original screenshots released in October 21st, 2008.

The Hero Engine and its Next-Generation Power

The Hero Engine is an MMORPG 3D game engine developed specifically to build MMO games. It has won many awards, it was a finalist for “Best Engine” in the Game Developer magazine, and has been licensed by Bioware for Star Wars: The Old Republic. The new gameplay video will showcase all the ground-breaking features such as scripting, dynamic character animation, and many important graphical milestones that the game needs to rival best-selling MMOs like World of Warcraft.

You can watch many visually impressive videos and tutorials of the Hero Engine on its official website. They are only a few of the engine’s capabilities. Bioware is renowned for its ability to put a signature trademark on all it touches, which is why it’s one of the best in the game industry.

TOR.

The Hero Engine is going to run SW:TOR.

History in the Making – The Video Documentary

Stay tuned to watch the first ever gameplay video of Star Wars: The Old Republic; it will be online on Friday, December 12th, 2008. It will definitely catapult this new MMO into the higher reaches of mainstream knowledge. The game has only been announced for a short time so seeing how the first video is an entire documentary; we can assume there are big details and facts to be released about SW: TOR.

Only the video can prove whether or not the game has the ability to battle WoW for sales dominance. As much as TOR’s rivalry with WoW is brought up, there’s no question that the documentary will prove it for itself.

Fever Dream – The Thanatos Death Instinct

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Fever Dream – Associated Content

Here is a short story I wrote depicting Sigmund Freud’s theory of the human Thanatos Death Instinct, an instinctual natural drive of violence naturally present in all human beings. Carl Jung created the concept of the Animus (Anima) – our subconscious will. I took my inspiration from Seymour’s aeon Anima from Playstation 2’s Final Fantasy X.

———-

They call it the fever dream.

When nothing matters but the opponent facing you. The man who has wronged, betrayed, and left you to pick at the air of defeat. When you know deep inside that you are right and he is wrong.

Your blood begins to boil. At first it is slight, dismissable, and insignificant. But like a seed it unravels itself out of the core of your body and its tenacious vines begin to swarm and infiltrate your heart. Its grip is unwavering and absolute, squeezing tighter with every breath you take. It courses through your veins and turns your blood as black as tar. Your knuckles turn white, you hold your gaze, your hands begin to shake. What was at first insignificant becomes significant.

Nothing else matters.

Your mind is clouded, a blood-red haze of fog seeping through every corner of your brain and your soul. The adrenaline blows away any shred of doubt, your mind is steadfast on one outcome. You lose the concept of logic, of reasoning, and peace. There is only one outcome – his blood or yours.

The fever dream begins.

You feel the beast of Anima inside you has awakened and clawed its way out of your cage of consciousness. You never knew it even existed, that such a blood-thirsty creature is a part of you. But you know the truth, that it is the essence of your Thanatos, the death instinct. You are no longer disgusted by your thoughts of staggering violence. You begin to like it. To crave it. You are drawn to the bloodrage as if it were a drug. It makes you powerful, you feel as if you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You understand the true meaning of freedom and invincibility. It is the drug and you are the addict.

You turn around to find the door back to your old reality. Quickly it shrinks before your eyes while the key in your outstretched fist makes itself known. You have a choice. You always have the choice. But you ignore it and whip around to face your enemy. You let the door pass into oblivion and squeeze your fist with all the power you have, assuring the key meets the same fate.

There is no going back.

The unfamiliar feeling becomes as familiar as your mind as you once knew it. You discover you had this same dream before, this waking dream that leaves you disgusted and guilty each time it passes. And yet each time it loosens its grip a second longer…

Your enemy no longer remains an enemy. He becomes the victim in your sadistic game. You locate the soft parts of his body. You scan his vulnerabilities and locate the shatterpoints – to do more than defeat him. You want to hurt him. You want to break him. You want to make his suffering as agonizing as possible. Your instincts of combat vanish and become instincts of claws and teeth. You crush his throat, stab him, smash his head into the ground. The ruthless methods in which you destroy him in your dream are beyond words.

And as quickly as the fog had set in, a wave of reality sweeps through your dream. The blood stops thundering in your ears and you start to hear noises of the world outside.

Outside the dream in which you are trapped.

Trapped between the world of self-control and the world of freedom.

There is a wall of mirror enclosing your dream from the reality you once knew. The blood-red veil of haze begins to lift slowly and you rush to the wall, looking at yourself in the mirror and dropping to your knees in remorse. You cannot recognize yourself at all but your reflection recognizes you. It is the most terrible feeling in the world and yet you know the truth – that you crave, live, and thrive on that feeling. All the trust you ever had has been betrayed by yourself.

Anima

Anima

You strike at your reflection with all the strength you can muster. The mirror wall shatters into thousands of shards, faintly falling to the ground and crumbling into wisps. The air returns. Color reverts back into the world. No more pounding, no more blood, no more dual identity. You are back where you were, fully awaken from your dream world.

You look your enemy in the eye and remember what you have done to your reflection in the mirror. Then it dawns on you. You have already won the battle.

But you have not won the war.

You know in truth that just as the sun sets upon the world and the rain will always strike the earth that there will be another battle. And each battle will last a second longer than the last in the war that you call your life. You cannot let your dream become your reality and your reality become the dream.

You must not let your enemy win. You must not let your reflection win.

You take one final breath and the fist around your heart loosens its grip and disappears.

You discover that in a war without right and wrong, you don’t have to win.

All you have to do is fight.

They call it the fever dream.