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Be Amazing: Print Your Own Money

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Whether you're looking to glow in the dark, swallow a sword, quit smoking, find Atlantis, get out of jury duty, buy the Moon, sink a battleship, perform your own surgeries, or become a ninja, our new book Be Amazing covers all the essential life skills! This week, we'll be excerpting a few lessons from the book.

Here are three home-grown monetary systems you should avoid copying too closely:

The Raam

Although best known for his contribution to the spiritual lives of the Beatles, Yogi Maharishi Mahesh and his Transcendental Meditation movement recently got into another business: International financing. In 2001 or 2002 (reports differ), the Maharishi's so-called spiritual nation, the Global Country of World Peace, began issuing its own legal tender. Called the "Raam" and adorned with Indian-style art, the bills are currently only in use in TM"“associated communities, like Vedic City, Iowa, and some areas of the Netherlands, where their exchange rate reportedly rests at $10 or 10 Euros per 1 Raam.

The REAL Dollar

The Midwest apparently attracts a lot of people dissatisfied with the dollar. Just down the interstate from Vedic City, Iowa, you'll find Lawrence, Kansas, a mid-size college town that began printing its own currency in 2000. Meant to encourage people and businesses to buy locally, REAL (Realizing Economic Alternatives in Lawrence) Dollars were printed in denominations of $1, $3, and $10 and featured images of home-town heroes like Langston Hughes and William S. Burroughs. Unfortunately, their creation managed to coincide with the rise of the cashless society. Today, of the $65,000 worth of REAL Dollars printed, only $5,000 remain in circulation—much of that in the hands of out-of-state collectors.

The Company-Store Token

Think your job's the pits? Trust us, it could be worse— at least you're paid in U.S. greenbacks. For blue-collar workers in America and England during the 19th and early 20th centuries, payday often meant pay in non-exchangeable tokens, which could only be used at stores owned by their bosses. You see the problem? Of course, there was some logic to this. Many factories and most mines were far from established cities, so owners built housing, stores, churches, and schools for workers' families, making it more convenient than traveling all the way to a non-company town just to go shopping. Still, without competition, company stores were free to over-charge and mistreat customers, who, until the labor reforms of the 20th century, had little recourse.

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Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
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Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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