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News of the Weird 8/22/13

by Chuck Shepherd

Haute Water The upscale restaurant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced in August that it would soon add a 20-item selection of waters from around the world, priced from $8 to $16 a bottle (except for a $12 “tasting menu”). Martin Riese, general manager of Ray’s & Stark Bar, who is also a renowned water gourmet, will sell his own California-made 9OH2O, which comes in “limited editions of 10,000 individually numbered glass bottles” at $14 each. Said Riese, “(M)any people don’t know that water is just as important to the entire dining experience (as, say, a good wine).” Riese has been certified as a Water Sommelier by the German Mineral Water Association.

The Continuing Crisis A security lab, delivering a report to the makers of software for a luxury Japanese toilet, warned that a flaw in their Android program renders the toilet hackable—even while a user sits on it. The Satis (which retails for the equivalent of about $5,600) includes automatic flushing, bidet spray, fragrance-spritzing, and music, according to an August BBC News report, and is controllable by a “My Satis” cellphone app. However, the PIN to operate the app is unalterably “0000,” which means that a prankster with the app could create some very uncomfortable mischief in a public restroom.

• The CEO of Christian Schools Australia told the Australian Associated Press in June that Caloundra Christian College in Queensland teaches a range of creative sexual health messages and offered the school’s recent student pamphlet, “101 Things to Do Instead of Doing It,” as evidence. Recommended substitutes: “Pretend you’re six again,” “Have a water fight,” “Blow bubbles in the park,” and “Have a burping contest.”

• What Hawkmoth Researchers Know: According to their study in July in the Royal Society of Biology Letters, researchers from the University of Florida and Boise State somehow have learned that the hawkmoth evolved to avoid predator bats by jamming bats’ signature radar-like hunting technique called echolocation. A co-author told ScienceRecorder.com that the hawkmoth “confuses” the bats by emitting sonic pulses from its genitals.

• New Meaning to “Hon. John Hurley”: Immediately following Judge John Hurley’s having reduced her bond from $76,000 to $10,000 on drug trafficking charges in a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., courtroom in August, Felicia Underwood, 38, asked, “You can’t make it a little lower, hon?” According to a South Florida Sun-Sentinel report, Hurley was momentarily taken aback, asking: “Did she just refer to the court as ‘honey’?” “Oh, well …” (He kept the bond at $10,000.)

• Adult “swinger” clubs occasionally rent commercial facilities like restaurants for an evening in which randy couples can mingle, but a club in Melbourne, Australia, struck a deal with the Casey Kids Play House Cranbourne, where frolickers could enjoy the playtime equipment—until parents of children who play there found out in June. The parents were especially concerned about the partiers cavorting among the plastic balls in the giant ball pit. One parent told the Herald Sun, “My son is one (who) puts balls in his mouth.”

• British birdwatchers were especially excited by news earlier this year that a rare White-throated Needletail (the world’s fastest flying bird) had been spotted on the U.K.’s Isles of Harris—only the eighth such sighting in Britain in 170 years—and ornithologists arranged for an expedition that attracted birdwatchers from around the world. A June report in the Daily Telegraph noted that about 80 people were on the scene when the bird appeared again, but then had to watch it fly straight toward the blades of a wind turbine. (As the event might be described by Monty Python, the bird thus joined the choir invisible, left this mortal coil, became an ex-White-throated Needletail.) {in}