Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

Zooming In

March 8, 2007

Sleeping in Cyberland

Gelf highlights overlooked coverage from local media around the world. In this edition: Japanese homeless find cheap place to stay; a six-legged dead frog is sought after by a biologist; and an Indian man tries to convince Bombay's High Court that he is 'god.'

Hadley Robinson

Some of the most insightful writing from outside the U.S. comes from local media. In this occasional feature, Gelf identifies noteworthy stories that haven't gotten much attention outside local borders.

Graphic created by Paul Antonson
"We deal with these type of people more and more. The quality of life for their parents' generation was so much better than it is now."—Welfare activist Makoto Yuasa on Japan's homeless population

Graphic created by Paul Antonson


Homeless Japanese have found the cheapest place to spend their evenings: all-night cyber cafes. For as little as 900 yen ($7.11 US) per night in Tokyo, a person gets a blanket, a private cubicle, and unlimited internet access. Approximately 1,400 such cyber cafes exist across Japan, and the one featured in this Sydney Morning Herald article, Manga Monboo, has 186 cubicles. Employee Kazuya Konno said, "To be honest, it's no problem if they want to stay here. It doesn't bother me. Better than the street."

New Zealand

Biologist Nick Ling is willing to pay $100NZ ($69 US) for the carcass of a dead tree frog. The high value of this amphibian is its extra legs; it has six. The frog was found by Brett Wilson, age 7, on a farm near Te Awamutu. Wilson rejected the money for his freak frog because he considered him a pet. Ling theorizes that the deformity could be a result of environmental pollution. “I still want to buy it if it is not too badly decomposed. Hopefully they have popped it in the freezer," Ling told the Sydney Morning Herald.

South Korea

Chongwol Taeborum is an annual Korean celebration of the first full moon of the new year. The day, which fell on March 4 this year, includes customs and activities to ward off evil spirits and provide prosperity and health in the coming year. The men and women play tug-of-war with each other; a female victory signifies an abundant harvest. The size of their evening fire that night can also help yield more crops. Besides cracking nuts with one’s own teeth to drive evil spirits away, Koreans release captive fish by the light of the full moon to fend them off and bring good luck. But this year, some Koreans may be out of luck, because not just any fish can be thrown to the waters. According to the Korea Times, Hangang Park along the Han River is prohibiting the liberation of 13 species of marine life that could damage the ecosystem.


An Indian man claiming to be “god” petitioned Bombay’s High Court to recognize his divinity and to hand over control of the country and the UN. Dharmendra Mishra, 35, said to prove his case he was willing to take a cyanide test (he'd pass the test by surviving a lethal dose). “I am Vishnu, Buddha, Christ. I know everything that goes around,” Mishra told the Times of India. The high court rejected his application.

Northern Ireland

Robert Boyd was found guilty of dressing like a female elf and robbing a lingerie shop in Belfast. He participates in a role-playing game called “Shadow Run,” and the day of the robbery, he thought he was the criminal elf Buho. He stole several items before holding up the shop owner at gunpoint. He told the BBC that his indulgence in the game causes him to blur the line between fantasy and reality.

Hadley Robinson

Hadley Robinson is a Gelf contributor and a staff writer for the
Webster Times.

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Article by Hadley Robinson

Hadley Robinson is a Gelf contributor and a staff writer for the
Webster Times.

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