News of the Weird M509, January 8, 2017

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Chuck Shepherd

Jan 8, 2017, 10:33:31 AM1/8/17
WEIRDNUZ.M509 (News of the Weird, January 8, 2017)
by Chuck Shepherd

Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd.  All rights reserved.
Lead Story                                  
* Too-Much-Reality TV:  Russian producers are planning the so-
far-ultimate survivors' show--in the Siberian wilderness for nine
months (temperatures as low as -40F), with 30 contestants selected
after signing liability waivers that protect the show even if someone
is raped or murdered.  (Police may come arrest the perpetrators, but
the producers are not responsible for intervening.)  The show
("Game2: Winter") will be telecast live, around the clock, beginning
July 2017 via 2,000 cameras placed in a large area of bears and
treacherous forest.  Producers told Siberian Times in December that
60 prospects had already signed up for the last-person-standing
prize:  the equivalent of $1.6 million (only requirements:  be 18 and
"sane").  (Bonus:  The production company's advertising lists the
"dangerous" behaviors they allow, including "fighting," "murder,"
"rape," "smoking.") [Siberian Times (Novosibirsk), 12-15-2016]

Roundup from the World's Press

* With car-camel collisions increasing in Iran's two southern
provinces, an Iranian government ministry is in the process of
issuing identification cards to each camel, supposedly leading to
outerwear license "plates" on each of the animals.  Authorities told
the Islamic Republic News Agency the registration numbers are
needed if an accident victim needs to report the camel or to help
trace smugglers.  (No actual U.S.-style license "plates" on camels
have yet made the world's news photographs.)  [Daily Mail
(London), 12-7-2016]

* Martin Shkreli became the Wall Street bad boy in 2015 when his
company Turing Pharmaceuticals bought the right to market the
lifesaving drug Daraprim and promptly raised its typical price of
$18 a pill to $750, but in November, high schoolers in the chemistry
lab at Sydney Grammar in Australia created a molecular knockoff of
Daraprim for about $2 a tablet.  Their sample of "pyrimethamine"
(Daraprim's chemical name) was judged authentic by a University
of Sydney chemistry professor.  Daraprim, among other uses, fights
deadly attacks on immune systems, such as for HIV patients.
[Washington Post, 12-1-2017]

* Gazing Upon Nature as Nature Calls:  To serve restroom users in
a public park in China's Hunan Province's picturesque Shiyan Lake
area, architects gave users in toilet cubicles a view of the forest
through ceiling-to-floor windows.  To discourage sightseers who
believe the better view is not from the cubicles but into them, the
bottom portion, up to the level of the toilet, is frosted--though that
strategem probably blurs only a pair of legs, seated.  (CNN reported
in October that China has at least one other such restroom, in Guilin
province, viewing distant mountains.) [CNN, 10-4-2016]

* Oops!  Organizers of the Christmas Day caroling program at the
Nelum Pokuna theater in Colombo, Sri Lanka, drawing thousands
of devout celebrants, were apparently confused by one song title and
innocently included it in the book for the carolers.  (No, it wasn't
"Inna Gadda Da Vida" from a famous "Simpsons" episode.)  It was
"Hail Mary" by the late rapper Tupac Shakur--likely resulting in the
very first appearance of certain words in any Christmas service
publication anywhere.  [The Independent (London), 12-25-2016]

* Officials of the Ulm Minster in Ulm, Germany, the world's tallest
church (530 feet high), said in October that they fear it might
eventually be brought down--by visitors who make the long trek up
with a full bladder and no place to relieve themselves except in dark
alcoves, thus eroding the structure's sandstone.  A building
preservation representative also cited vomit in the alcoves, perhaps
as a result of the dizzying height of the view from the top.  (News of
the Weird has reported on erosion damage to a bridge, from spitting,
in Mumbai, India, and at the Taj Mahal, from bug droppings.)
[Washington Post, 10-25-2016]

* The Dubai-based Gulf News reported in November that 900
Kuwaiti government workers had their pay frozen during the current
investigation into no-shows, including one man on the payroll
(unidentified) who reportedly had not actually worked in 10 years.
Another, who had been living abroad for 18 months while drawing
his Kuwaiti pay, was reduced to half-pay, but insisted he had asked
several times for assignments but was told nothing was available.
(Gulf News reported that the 10-year man is appealing the freeze!)
[Daily Mail (London), 11-10-2016]

* Prosecutors in Darlington, England, obviously take child "cruelty"
seriously because Gary McKenzie, 22, was hauled into court in
October on four charges against a boy (whose name and age were
not published), including passing gas in the kid's face.  The charge
was described as "in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary
suffering or injury to health."  He was on trial for two other slightly
harsher acts--and another gas-passing, against a different boy--but
the judgment has not been reported. [The Northern Echo
(Darlington), 10-20-2016]

* World-class chess players are famous for intense powers of
concentration, but a chess journal reported in October that top-flight
female players have actually been disqualified from matches for
showing too much cleavage as they play, thus distracting their
opponent (according to Ms. Sava Stoisavljevic, head of the
European Chess Union).  In fact, the Women's World Chess
Championship, scheduled for February, has decreed that, since the
matches will be held in Tehran, all contestants must wear hijabs
(leading the U.S. women's champion to announce she is boycotting).
[Metro News (London), 10-31-2016] [New York Times, 10-8-2016]

* News You Can Use:  German Horst Wenzel, "Mr. Flirt," fancies
himself a smooth-talking maestro, teaching mostly wealthy but
tongue-tied German men lessons (at about $1,500 a day!) in how to
approach women--but this year has decided to "give back" to the
community by offering his expertise pro-bono to lonely Syrian and
Iraqi refugees who have flooded the country.  At one class in
Dortmund in November, observed by an Associated Press reporter,
most "students" were hesitant, apparently divided between the those
embarrassed (when Wenzel informed them it's "normal" to have sex
on the first or second date) and the awkwardly confident (opening
line:  "I love you.  Can I sleep over at your place?").  But, advised
Wenzel, "Don't tell [a German woman] that you love [her] at least
for the first three months [because] German women don't like
clinginess." [Associated Press, 11-28-2016]

* Undignified Deaths:  (1) A 24-year-old woman who worked at a
confectionary factory in Fedortsovo, Russia, was killed in
December when she fell into a vat of chocolate.  (Some witnesses
said she was pouring flour when she fell; others say she fell while
trying to retrieve her dropped cell phone.) (2) A 24-year-old man
was decapitated in London in August when he leaned too far out the
window of one train and struck an extension on a passing train.
Next to the window he leaned from was a sign warning people not
to stick their heads out.  [The Independent (London), 12-16-2016]
[Daily Mail, 9-1-2016]

The Passing Parade

* (1) A poll revealed in December (sponsored by University of Graz
and Austria Press Agency) that Austria's "word of the year" for 2016
was a 52-letter word beginning "bundespraesident" and referring to
the postponement of the runoff election for president in 2016.  (2)
The Wall Street Journal reported in December a longstanding feud
on the tiny Mediterranean island of Gozo, Malta, which has only
37,000 residents but two opera houses because of the owners'
mutual antipathy.  [Associated Press via Yahoo News, 12-9-2016]
[Wall Street Journal, 12-6-2016]
A News of the Weird Classic (February 2013)
* In November, Tokyo's Kenichi Ito, 29, bested his own Guinness
World Record by a full second (down to 17.47 seconds) in the 100-
meter dash--"running" on all fours.  Ito runs like a Patas monkey,
which he has long admired and which (along with his self-described
monkey-like face) inspired him nine years ago to take up "four-
legged" running.  He reported trouble only once, when he went to
the mountains to train and was shot at by a hunter who mistook him
for a boar. [The Guardian (London), 11-16-2012; Reuters, 4-18-

     Thanks This Week to Peter Swank and Alexander Campbell,
and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors. 
                     ****, weirdnews at earthlink dot net, and P. O.
Box 18737, Tampa FL 33629
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