News of the Weird

Nov. 11, 2010
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iPhone Snafu

In July, Horatio Toure, 31, was arrested in San Francisco after snatching an iPhone from a woman on the street and riding away on a bicycle. Unknown to him, the woman was conducting a real-time demonstration of global positioning software, and thus Toure's exact movement was registering on her company's computers. He was arrested within minutes.

Leading Economic Indicators

  • In September, Russia's finance minister publicly urged citizens to step up their smoking and drinking efforts, in that the government's new "sin" taxes would translate to more revenue: "If you smoke a pack of cigarettes," he said, "that means you are giving more to help solve social problems." (Alcohol abuse already is estimated to kill 500,000 Russians a year and to significantly lower life expectancy.)
  • Director Brigitte Stevens announced in September that her perpetually underappreciated advocacy institution, Wombat Awareness Organisation, had just been pledged $8 million by a single donor. According to Stevens, the $1 million annually she will receive in each of the next eight years is about 13 times the previous annual budget for the Mannum, South Australia, organization. The U.S. donor, who demanded anonymity, became interested in "southern hairy-nosed" wombats during an on-site visit in 2008

Bad Directions

A 45-year-old, out-of-town man was killed in a street robbery in Oakland, Calif., in July while he and a friend were trying to enter directions into the GPS unit of a rental car so that he could find his way back to his hotel.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Retail Breakthroughs: (1) A shop that opened in September in Santa Cruz, Calif., is selling ice cream infused with extract of marijuana. Customers with "medical marijuana" prescriptions can buy Creme De Canna, Bananabis Foster or Straw-Mari Cheesecake at $15 a half-pint—with one bite supposedly equal to five puffs of "really good" weed, according to the proprietor. (2) Spotted outside subway stations in Nanjing, China, in October: vending machines selling live Shanghai hairy crabs, in plastic containers chilled to 5 degrees C (41 degrees F), for the equivalent of $1.50 to $7, depending on size.

Cutting-Edge Science

  • Two University of Sydney researchers reported recently that the food-acquisition "strategy" of the brainless, single-cell slime mold appeared to resemble one of the strategies familiar to us so-called brain-containing humans—specifically, making a selection based on comparisons to readily available alternatives. Furthermore, Japanese researchers who mapped the slime mold's search for food found that its nuclei are arranged in a pattern that is seemingly just as logically helpful in food procurement as the service arrangements are in Tokyo's acclaimed railway system.

  • Some obese patients with an array of symptoms known as "prediabetes" have seen their insulin sensitivity improved dramatically via "fecal transplants," i.e., receiving the stool of a thin, healthy person into the bowel, according to researchers led by a University of North Carolina professor. Researchers said the strangers’ implants were significantly more effective than those of a control group in which a person's own feces was implanted. (News of the Weird has previously reported on successful treatments of certain gastrointestinal infections by stool transplants that contain the bacteria Clostridium difficile.)

A News of the Weird Classic

In September 1991, the town council in Avon, Colo., decided to hold a contest to name the new bridge linking Interstate 70 with U.S. Highway 6 over the Eagle River. Sifting through 84 suggestions (such as "Eagle Crossing"), the council voted 4-2 to bestow the bridge with the official name of "Bob." "Bob the Bridge" garnered national attention and became a theme for several local festivals.

2010 Chuck Shepherd


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