Trompe l'Oeil Jungle
A conservation biologist at Australia's University of New South Wales said in July that his team was headed to Botswana to paint eyeballs on cows' rear ends. It's a solution to the problem of farmers who are now forced to kill endangered lions to keep them away from their cows. However, the researchers hypothesize, since lions hunt by stealth and tend to pass up kills if the prey spots them, painting on eyeballs might trick the lions to choose other prey. (For the same reason, woodcutters in India wear masks painted with faces – backward – for protection against tigers.)
"Big Porn" Gives Back
In June, the online mega-website Pornhub announced a program to help blind pornography consumers by adding 50 "described videos" to its catalog, with a narrator doing play-by-play of the setting, the actors, clothing (if any) and the action. Said a Pornhub vice president, "It's our way of giving back." Later in June, another pornography website (with a frisky name – see bit.ly/29O4G9UURL) inaugurated a plan to donate a penny to women's health or abuse prevention organizations every time a user reached a successful "ending" while viewing its videos (maximum two per person per day). Its first day's haul was $39, or $13 for each of three charities (including the Mariska Hargitay-supported Joyful Heart Foundation).
Can't Possibly Be True
A Government Program That Actually Works: A motorist in Regina, Saskatchewan, was issued a $175 traffic ticket on June 8 after he pulled over to ask if he could assist a homeless beggar on the sidewalk. According to the police report cited by CTV News, the "beggar" was actually a cop on stakeout looking for drivers not wearing seat belts (who would thus pay the city $175). Driver Dane Rusk said he had unbuckled his belt to lean over in the seat to give the "beggar" $3 – and moments later, the cop's partner stopped Rusk (thus earning Regina a total of $178!).
One of America's major concerns, according to a U.S. congressman, should be the risk that if an apocalyptic event occurs and we are forced to abandon Earth with only a few species to provide for humanity's survival, NASA might unwisely populate the space "ark" with same-sex couples instead of procreative male-female pairs. This warning was conveyed during the U.S. House session on May 26 by Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert (who seemed not to be aware that gay males might contribute sperm to lesbians for species-continuation).
What Goes Around, Comes Around
In May, the Times of India reported the death of a man known only as Urjaram, in Rajasthan, India, when, while hosting a party, he forgot that while he was enjoying himself, he had left his camel in the sun all day (during a historic heat wave) with its legs tied together. When Urjaram finally went outside, the enraged camel "lifted him by the neck," "threw him to the ground" and "chewed on his body," severing his head.
The thief who ransacked a community greenhouse in County Durham, England, in July got away, but, according to residents, among his bounty was a bottle of rum that is usually offered only as a constipation remedy, in that it contained a heavy dose of the aggressive laxative "lactulose." Said one resident, "Maybe (the thief has) left a trail" for the police.
Air Force Col. Eugene Caughey is scheduled for court-martial in August in Colorado Springs, Colorado, charged with six counts of adultery (a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice) which he alleges constitutes illegal discrimination because he is heterosexual. That is, only heterosexuals can have the "sexual intercourse" required for adultery since the UCMJ defines the term as between a man and a woman; same-sex pairs cannot have "sexual intercourse." (Even if Caughey prevails on the discrimination issue, he faces other, more serious charges that may bring him life in prison.)
Leading Economic Indicators
Update: News of the Weird reported in 2007 and 2014 that, despite the abundant desert, Middle East developers were buying plenty of beach sand from around the world (because the massive concrete construction in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, among other places, requires coarser sand than the desert grains tempered for centuries by sun and wind). The need has now grown such that London's The Independent reported in June that black market gangs, some violent, are stealing beach sand – and that two dozen entire islands in Indonesia have virtually disappeared since 2005 because of sand-mining.
Farmers high in Nepal's Himalayas are heavily dependent on harvesting a fungus which, when consumed by humans, supposedly produces effects similar to Viagra's – but the region's rising temperatures and diminished rainfall (thought to result from global climate change) threaten the output, according to a June New York Times dispatch. Wealthy Chinese men in Hong Kong and Shanghai may pay the equivalent of $50,000 a pound for the "caterpillar fungus," and about a million Nepalese are involved in the industry, producing about 135 tons a year. (The fungus is from the head of ghost moth larvae living in soil at altitudes of more than 10,000 feet.)
People With Issues
Joshua Long, 26, was arrested in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in June for possession of a suspected-stolen human brain (which he allegedly kept in a shopping bag under the porch at his aunt's trailer home). Police believe that the brain had been a medical teaching aid, but that Long was lacing his marijuana with the brain's embalming fluid. (Long and a former resident of the trailer home called the brain "Freddy.")
The Passing Parade
Large-schnozzed people from all over Europe squared off in June for the World Nose Championship in Langenbruck, Germany (held every five years since 1961). After judges applied precision calipers (adding length plus width), Hans Roest was declared the winner. (Also reported: Contestants believe snuff tobacco and beer to be size-enhancing substances.) An unnamed man, 55, and woman, 40, were arrested near Joplin, Missouri, in July, after being spotted riding a stolen lawn mower at 8:45 a.m.–naked. They told police that someone had stolen their clothes while they were skinny-dipping and that the mower was their best option to make it home.
A News of the Weird Classic (September 2012)
A centuries-old practice of China's upper class continues today, reported Slate.com in August (2012), except with a bit more circumspection. Rich or powerful people convicted of crimes can still hire replacements to serve their sentences – but because of ubiquitous Internet videos, only if the replacements facially resemble them. Since the convict winds up paying something for his crime (though a relatively small price), Slate called the practice (known as "ding zui") sort of a "cap-and-trade" policy for crime.
Thanks This Week to Caroline Lawler, Rob Zimmer, Larry Kanter, Gary Goldberg, Mark Hiester, Ivan Katz, Chuck Hamilton, Neb Rodgers, Eddie Earles, and Stan Kaplan, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.