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Seven Things I Didn't Know Were Illegal

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China's recent ban on reincarnation without government permission "“ "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation" "“ inspired our research editor extraordinaire Kara Kovalchik to dig up more examples of bizarre legislation on the books.

Being a Cow and Lacking ID in West Bengal, India

To prevent the smuggling of cattle into Bangladesh, Border Security Guards are issuing mandatory ID cards to cattle owners. The BBC explains: "Valid for two years, each laminated cattle ID card displays the picture of the animal and its owner. It also carries vital information about the animal, such as its color, height, sex and length of horns, the owner's name and address and sometimes other details about the animal "“ like one 'horn missing' or 'half tail lost.'"

This has not been easy on the cattle owners.

"I spent two whole days to get their pictures in a studio," Farid Hussain told the Toronto Star. "One of my cows damaged the lighting system of the studio and I had to pay 800 rupees "“ half of my month's income "“ in damages."

Wearing a Bullet-Proof Vest While Committing a Murder in New Jersey

bulletproof.jpgThou shall not kill. But if thou does, thou shall not have any unfair advantage. "A person is guilty of a crime if he uses or wears a body vest while engaged in the commission of...murder, manslaughter, robbery, sexual assault, burglary, kidnapping, criminal escape or assault."

Seeking West Virginia Political Office with a Duel on Your Resume

duel.jpgWest Virginians want elected officials who will metaphorically fight for their constituents. But not if they've ever actually fought. "Any citizen of this state who shall...fight a duel with deadly weapons, or send or accept a challenge so to do...or knowingly aid or assist in such duel, shall ever thereafter be incapable of holding any office of honor, trust or profit in this state."

Sagging Your Pants in Mansfield, Louisiana

sagging.jpgYou've got nine more days to show off your crazy, sexy and/or cool underwear in Mansfield, a Louisiana town of 5,500 located forty miles south of Shreveport. Starting September 15th, anyone caught wearing sagging pants that expose underwear will be subject to a fine of up to $150 plus court costs "“ or face up to 15 days in jail.

Discouraging the Use of Manual Flushing Devices for Urinals in Utah

urinal.JPGKeeping with yesterday's public restroom theme, don't let the Utah government tell you you can't flush it yourself. "The department shall not promulgate any rules which either directly or indirectly prohibit the use of manual flushing devices for urinals. The department shall take steps to encourage the use of manual flushing devices for urinals." Power to the pee-ers.

Wearing a Hooded Sweatshirt in the Bluewater Shopping Center in Kent, England

dukesweatshirt.jpgI would imagine you can find hooded sweatshirts for sale somewhere within this massive shopping mecca. But don't get caught trying one on. Since 2005, Bluewater has banned hooded tops and baseball hats to prevent thuggish teens from hiding their true identities from security cameras. I guess the mall security detail does not have the power to enact actual legislation, so this is more of a code-of-conduct kind of thing. Regardless, they've also banned swearing.

Chewing Gum Without a Prescription in Singapore

singapore.jpgSingapore's 1994 caning of American Michael Fay was a big international incident to me. Even though I rarely left New Jersey, I was terrified of accidentally winding up in Singapore and breaking a law I didn't know existed. Fay's punishment was for vandalism, but every news story seemed to mention Singapore's strict war on gum. The penalty for smuggling gum was a year in jail and a $5,500 fine. So this one I knew, but hadn't heard the latest.

As part of a 2003 trade deal with the United States "“ with lots of help from the powerful gum lobby "“ Singapore agreed to relax the ban. However, gum is only allowed with a medical prescription.

For more weird laws, check out Becky's previous post on this subject and all the great comments underneath. And if you know of or have been cited for breaking any strange laws, keep the list going.

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Space
Google Street View Now Lets You Explore the International Space Station

Google Street View covers some amazing locations (Antarctica, the Grand Canyon, and Stonehenge, to name a few), but it’s taken until now for the tool to venture into the final frontier. As TechCrunch reports, you can now use Street View to explore the inside of the International Space Station.

The scenes, photographed by astronauts living on the ISS, include all 15 modules of the massive satellite. Viewers will be treated to true 360-degree views of the rooms and equipment onboard. Through the windows, you can see Earth from an astronaut's perspective and a SpaceX Dragon craft delivering supplies to the crew.

Because the imagery was captured in zero gravity, it’s easy to lose sense of your bearings. Get a taste of what ISS residents experience on a daily basis here.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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travel
6 East Coast Castles to Visit for a Fairy Tale Road Trip
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Lucy Quintanilla/iStock

Once the stuff of fairy tales and legends, a variety of former castles have been repurposed today as museums and event spaces. Enough of them dot the East Coast that you can plan a summer road trip to visit half a dozen in a week or two, starting in or near New York City. See our turrent-rich itinerary below.

STOP 1: BANNERMAN CASTLE // BEACON, NEW YORK

59 miles from New York City

The crumbling exterior of Bannerman Castle
Garrett Ziegler, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bannerman Castle can be found on its very own island in the Hudson River. Although the castle has fallen into ruins, the crumbling shell adds visual interest to the stunning Hudson Highlands views, and can be visited via walking or boat tours from May to October. The man who built the castle, Scottish immigrant Frank Bannerman, accumulated a fortune shortly after the Civil War in his Brooklyn store known as Bannerman’s. He eventually built the Scottish-style castle as both a residence and a military weapons storehouse starting in 1901. The island remained in his family until 1967, when it was given to the Taconic Park Commission; two years later it was partially destroyed by a mysterious fire, which led to its ruined appearance.

STOP 2. GILLETTE CASTLE STATE PARK // EAST HADDAM, CONNECTICUT

116 miles from Beacon, New York

William Gillette was an actor best known for playing Sherlock Holmes, which may have something to do with where he got the idea to install a series of hidden mirrors in his castle, using them to watch guests coming and going. The unusual-looking stone structure was built starting in 1914 on a chain of hills known as the Seven Sisters. Gillette designed many of the castle’s interior features (which feature a secret room), and also installed a railroad on the property so he could take his guests for rides. When he died in 1937 without designating any heirs, his will forbade the possession of his home by any "blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded.” The castle is now managed by the State of Connecticut as Gillette Castle State Park.

STOP 3. BELCOURT CASTLE // NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND

74 miles from East Haddam, Connecticut

The exterior of Belcourt castle
Jenna Rose Robbins, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Prominent architect Richard Morris Hunt designed Belcourt Castle for congressman and socialite Oliver Belmont in 1891. Hunt was known for his ornate style, having designed the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, but Belmont had some unusual requests. He was less interested in a building that would entertain people and more in one that would allow him to spend time with his horses—the entire first floor was designed around a carriage room and stables. Despite its grand scale, there was only one bedroom. Construction cost $3.2 million in 1894, a figure of approximately $80 million today. But around the time it was finished, Belmont was hospitalized following a mugging. It took an entire year before he saw his completed mansion.

STOP 4. HAMMOND CASTLE MUSEUM // GLOUCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS

111 miles from Newport, Rhode Island

Part of the exterior of Hammond castle
Robert Linsdell, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Inventor John Hays Hammond Jr. built his medieval-style castle between 1926 and 1929 as both his home and a showcase for his historical artifacts. But Hammond was not only interested in recreating visions of the past; he also helped shape the future. The castle was home to the Hammond Research Corporation, from which Hammond produced over 400 patents and came up with the ideas for over 800 inventions, including remote control via radio waves—which earned him the title "the Father of Remote Control." Visitors can take a self-guided tour of many of the castle’s rooms, including the great hall, indoor courtyard, Renaissance dining room, guest bedrooms, inventions exhibit room, library, and kitchens.

STOP 5. BOLDT CASTLE // ALEXANDRIA BAY, THOUSAND ISLANDS, NEW YORK

430 miles from Gloucester, Massachusetts

It's a long drive from Gloucester and only accessible by water, but it's worth it. The German-style castle on Heart Island was built in 1900 by millionaire hotel magnate George C. Boldt, who created the extravagant structure as a summer dream home for his wife Louise. Sadly, she passed away just months before the place was completed. The heartbroken Boldt stopped construction, leaving the property empty for over 70 years. It's now in the midst of an extensive renovation, but the ballroom, library, and several bedrooms have been recreated, and the gardens feature thousands of plants.

STOP 6. FONTHILL CASTLE // DOYLESTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

327 miles from Alexandria Bay, New York

Part of the exterior of Fonthill castle

In the mood for more castles? Head south to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where Fonthill Castle was the home of the early 20th century American archeologist, anthropologist, and antiquarian Henry Chapman Mercer. Mercer was a man of many interests, including paleontology, tile-making, and architecture, and his interest in the latter led him to design Fonthill Castle as a place to display his colorful tile and print collection. The inspired home is notable for its Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles, and with 44 rooms, there's plenty of well-decorated nooks and crannies to explore.

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