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Monday May 28th 2018

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News of the Weird 8/13/15

By Chuck Shepherd

Pets of the 1 Percent “The worshipful treatment of pets may be the thing that unites all Americans,” wrote an Atlantic Magazine blogger in July, describing the luxury terminal for animals under construction at New York’s JFK airport. The ARK will offer shower stalls for traveling horses, “conjugal stations” for ever-horny penguins, and housing for nearly 200 cows (that might produce 5,000 pounds of manure every day) — and passengers traveling with dogs or cats can book the Paradise 4 Paws pet-pampering resort. The ARK is a for-profit venture; said one industry source, quoted in a July Crain’s New York Business report, “You hear stories about the crazy money that rich people spend on their (animals) … they’re mostly true.”

Government in Action Officially, now, it is “unreasonable” for a federal agency (the Bureau of Land Management, in this instance) to fail to say yes or no for 29 years to a drilling permit application. (Before July’s federal court decision, BLM had been arguing that 29 years was not too long.) A company had requested to drill just one exploratory well in Montana for natural gas in 1985, but the bureau had delayed the proceeding six times since then. The judge ordered the bureau to set a deadline for deciding.

Still More “Intelligent Design”? Zoologists at the University of Basel in Switzerland, publishing recently in a prestigious British journal, reported the likelihood that a certain flatworm species has overcome the frustration of not finding a mating partner in its lifetime. The scientists believe the flatworm exploits its hermaphroditic qualities and injects its sperm into its own head, from which the sperm sometimes migrates to its reproductive facilities. (Flatworm researchers are aided on their projects by the species’ transparent bodies, facilitating the tracking of the sperm.)

Protest! About 200 protesters gathered in front of Hong Kong police headquarters on August 2 to denounce the 3 1/2-month jail sentence given to Ms. Ng Lai-ying, 30, who was convicted of assault for shoving a police officer with her chest. Women (and some men) wearing bras as outerwear chanted, “Breast is not a weapon.” (Ng was originally protesting the hardly sexy issue of import-export abuses between Hong Kong and mainland China cities.)

Perspective Construction on a $1.7 million therapeutic equestrian facility in St. Cloud, Florida, expressly for use by wounded U.S. service members, was delayed in August when a bald eagle nest was discovered on the grounds. Federal law requires at least 330 feet of clearance for the nest, plus additional monitoring to assure the birds’ tranquility. Said one neighbor, “The very animal that symbolizes freedom is delaying therapy for those who fought for it.”

Funny Old World The Welsh language is such a severe mutation of the original English spoken in the Middle Ages that, to the inexperienced eye, it is barely distinguishable from, say, Klingon. In fact, in July, the Welsh government, responding to queries about a possible UFO sighting near Cardiff airport, playfully issued its galaxy-friendly response in Klingon — “jang vlDa je due luq,” meaning that further information will be provided. (In Welsh, for example, “I cannot understand Welsh” is “nad oes modd i ddeall Cymraeg.”) (Recently, in Swansea, Wales, alleged drug dealer Dwaine Campbell, 25, adamantly refused to leave his cell for a court hearing because he feared being judged in Welsh — until authorities promised to transfer the case to Campbell’s native England.)

Update Despite repeated assurances by Olympic officials, it appears more certain than ever that 2016 boating and surfing events in Brazil’s Guanabara Bay and Rodrigo de Freitas Lake will be conducted in water so polluted with human sewage that every athlete will almost certainly be struck with fever, vomiting and diarrhea. An August Associated Press report revealed the waters’ virus levels (of fecal coliform and other viruses) are as high as 2 million times the level that would close down a California beach. (Olympic and local officials continue to insist that the water will be safe by next summer, but, as the AP pointed out, their protocols test only for bacteria and not viruses. One U.S. water-quality expert advised all athletes to move to Rio ahead of the games — to try to build up an immunity.)

News of the Weird Classic (May 2010) In mid-April (2010), senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi warned that recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and elsewhere were caused by women’s loose sex and immodest dress. Immediately, Australian Jennifer McCreight responded on Facebook by urging women worldwide to dress provocatively on April 26 (2010), to create a “boobquake” and test the cleric’s theory, and at least 90,000 women promised they would reveal serious cleavage on that date. On April 26, following a several-day absence of earthquakes, a quake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale hit just south of Taiwan. (Slight advantage to the ayatollah, since a Purdue University seismologist observed that a 6.5 quake was not uncommon for that region).