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News » News of the Weird

Bright Idea

Perplexing people, kooky crimes and odd headlines from around the globe.



Bright Idea
Another birthday staring you down? Perhaps you can follow the lead of a man in the Netherlands who has launched a legal battle in the town of Arnhem to change his age from 69 to 49. "(Y)ou can change your name and change your gender," Emile Ratelband noted. "Why can't I decide my own age?" The Dutch positivity trainer told BBC News that he feels discriminated against both in the career realm and on Tinder. "When I am on Tinder and it says I'm 69, I don't get an answer," Ratelband said. "When I'm 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position." He also describes himself as a "young god." The arbiters of his case aren't so sure, though: One judge wanted to know what would become of the 20 years that would be erased by such a change. "Who were your parents looking after then? Who was that little boy?" he wondered.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit
Roxy Sykes, 33, of London, had a brainstorm that started when someone complimented her on her beautiful feet. "I was convinced to set up a social media account to show them off," she told Metro News on Nov. 1. But that was just the ground floor for the pedo-preneur. "It wasn't until I started getting thousands of followers and messages about selling used items that I realized I could profit from it," she said. In her busiest month, she grossed more than 8,000 pounds peddling socks, shoes and videos to foot fetishists. "Pairs of shoes that I would wear for two months would sell for 200 pounds, and a pair of socks that I wore for a day would sell for 20 pounds. Then a single video of me just wiggling my toes would make 100 pounds, so I was really raking in a lot of money," she continued. Overall, she says she's pulling down about 100,000 pounds a year. Sykes has also mentored fellow fetish models: "It's great to be able to help others and teach people my apparent 'talent,'" she said.

New World Order
Coming soon from the state-run news agency Xinhua in China: the first artificial intelligence anchorman. "Artificial Intelligence Anchor" debuted at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, on Nov. 7. The virtual host, based on images of human news broadcasters, can have real-time news typed into its system even while it's on air. A synthesized voice reads the script. Xinhua told Time that its new anchor can work "24 hours a day ... reducing news production costs and improving efficiency." But does it have a personal catchphrase, such as "Good night, and good news"?

Weird Science
Duuuude! Scientists at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey have created a mushroom that can produce electricity using light, Discover magazine reports. Using common button mushrooms, cyanobacteria (very adept at photosynthesis) and graphene nanoribbons (to make electrodes to transport the electricity), researchers were able to produce harvestable electricity by shining a light on their "bionic mushroom." While the amount of electricity created was small, the team noted the experiment demonstrated an "environment-friendly and green source of photosynthetic bioelectricity."

Wait, What?
On Nov. 12, a group of cyclists in Hustopece, Moravia, Czech Republic, enjoyed a sunny afternoon of riding to a local landmark known as Lookout Tower, reported United Press International. Taking in the view from the top of the tower, they saw a drone flying around and took video of it, capturing the moment when the drone picked up one of their bicycles from the ground and flew away with it. One of the cyclists threw his helmet at the drone as it flew off, and the others ran down the tower's steps to chase the drone on foot. Happily, the drone dropped the bike a few hundred feet from the tower.

A Jackson County sheriff's deputy in Kansas City, Mo., serving an eviction notice on Nov. 7, was startled to discover Katfish, a 7-foot-long, 200-pound alligator that tenant Sean Casey kept as a pet (along with three pythons, a rabbit and several cats). Casey told KSHB-TV that he's had Katfish for four years. "He's a big cuddly gator," Casey said. "He wags his tail when I come home." The gator could lounge in the home's bathtub, and "get up and get out and cruise through the house," said Dana Savorelli with Monkey Island Rescue, who officers called to help wrangle the alligator. "He had a ramp." Unfortunately, alligators are prohibited in Kansas City, so Katfish was relocated to Monkey Island in nearby Greenwood, Mo. And although Casey said Katfish was "not a vicious animal like some people make them out to be," he was ticketed for possessing an exotic animal within city limits.

Crime Report
In North College Hill, Ohio, on Nov. 6, Noel Hines' criminal love for Thin Mints finally caught up with her when she was arrested for stealing "a large order of Girl Scout cookies" last March, Fox News reported. North College Hill police said Hines took delivery of the cookies, valued at more than $1,600 and intended for a local Girl Scout troop, and never returned or paid for them. When Hines showed up at the town's Mayors Court on an unrelated matter, police arrested her, then posted on Facebook, "That's the way the cookie crumbles."

• On Nov. 11, St. Johns County (Florida) Sheriff's deputies responded to reports of a car crashed into a home in St. Augustine Shores, according to Action News Jax. Officers discovered the car's driver, Darrin Dewayne Touchton, 58, had previously had a relationship with the homeowner, and at the time of the incident, another person was with her at the home. Touchton "did not approve," the deputies stated, and when he saw the other man in the front yard, he floored his Nissan Maxima in an attempt to kill the interloper. But the target jumped out of the way, and Touchton hit the house. Police also determined Touchton had previously threatened to kill the man with his car. He was charged with attempted homicide, three counts of aggravated assault and driving on a suspended license.

On the Lam
Perhaps in an effort to escape its likely fate, a turkey in Shoshone, Idaho, was rounded up by police on Nov. 7 after "terrorizing the neighborhood" around North Fir Street. United Press International reported the bird was detained at a local petting zoo pending the owner's coming forward to claim it. Shoshone police posted on Facebook that the claimer would have to do "an embarrassing dance" to get the bird back.

So There!
Administrators at Spalding Grammar School in Spalding, Lincolnshire, England, introduced a new policy this year, banning sixth-formers (high-schoolers) from carrying book bags between classes. The school felt the heavy bags were causing injury to students and encouraged them to carry their books in their arms instead. But Jacob Ford, 17, disagreed, reported Metro News, and made his point by carrying his books in a wicker basket and an open microwave oven, for which he received a two-day suspension. Head teacher Steven Wilkinson huffed, "We have a student who has behaved in an increasingly inappropriate way, actions the likes of which I have never witnessed, and who has been sanctioned entirely in line with the school's policies." But Ford's mother, Tracy, backed up her son's protest: "I'm very proud of him for standing up for something he believes in. Microwave or no microwave."

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