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News That Sounds Like a Joke

A weekly roundup of international news oddities



News That Sounds Like a Joke
Ander Christensen, 27, of Lincoln, Nebraska, has had to take time away from his job to field the media requests that have been pouring in since his Aug. 31 appearance before the Lincoln City Council, reported The Washington Post. Reading from a script, Christensen, whose father, Roy, is a councilman, made an impassioned plea against the widespread use of the term "boneless chicken wings," pointing out that "boneless chicken wings are just chicken tenders" and don't "actually come from the wing of a chicken." Laughter and applause broke out in the chamber as Christensen made his presentation, and his father said the council was "taking the matter under advisement. ... He's a chemical engineer by profession," he said of his son, "but he's a comic at heart."

Bright Idea
Officials in Amsterdam have installed 12 hemp-filled urinals around that city's notorious red-light district in an attempt to control if not eliminate late-night public urination, or "wild peeing." The boxes, called GreenPees, resemble planters, according to CNN, and the hemp filters inside turn urine into an organic fertilizer and water that feed the plantings on top. During initial trials in 2018, inventor Richard de Vries said, "there was a 50% reduction in wild peeing. It was a great success." For his next project, de Vries is researching how electricity can be generated whenever someone pees into one of his GreenPees.

Nguyen Van Chien, 92, from a village in the southern Mekong Delta in Vietnam, hasn't had a haircut in almost 80 years. A follower of Dua, a religion banned in Vietnam, Chien believes he has been called to grow his hair, Reuters reported, and his dreadlocks now measure about 16 ½ feet. "I believe if I cut my hair I will die," Chien said. "I only nurture it, cover it in a scarf to keep it dry and clean and looking nice."

Great Art!
• Three years ago, Emma Aldenryd, 18, of Aarhus, Denmark, discovered she had a rare condition called dermatographia, which causes her skin to temporarily swell up when touched. Oddity Central reports that the teen has decided to use her skin as a canvas on which she traces artwork with a pencil and posts the images to Instagram. "I started by drawing quite random stuff like a bunch of words," Aldenryd said. "Lots of people question whether it hurts, but my dermatographia has never hurt." Antihistamines treat the itch associated with her condition n but they also stop the swelling, so she doesn't take them.

• Drivers on U.S. 70 in southeast New Mexico have wondered about the 18 wooden chairs set up 6 feet apart in rows on a hill between Clovis and Portales. KRQE reports they are the work of three local sisters who wanted to express their feelings about socially distanced learning as schools struggle to open. "I have a daughter that's a teacher and both my sisters have kids who are in school and this is really, really difficult for them not to be in school," said Alyssa Idsinga, who created the art installation along with April Rutter and Abigail Pritchett. "It's just so lonely." She had the chairs in a shed and said the installation would remain as long as the pandemic continues or until the weather destroys it.

Compelling Explanation
Nicole Dozois, 40, was arrested in Largo, Florida, on Aug. 23 on charges of domestic battery after allegedly attacking her father "due to his flatulence," according to an arrest affidavit. The Smoking Gun reported that Dozois, who shares a room in a home in Largo with her 59-year-old father, allegedly punched him in the face numerous times, leaving him with a "bloodied left eye and scratches all over his neck," authorities said. She pleaded not guilty before being released, with the proviso that she have no contact with her father.

Wait, What?
Villas Las Estrellas is a small settlement of about 100 people on King George Island in Antarctica with a school, a bank, a church and even a souvenir shop, but if you want to live there, you and your family—including your children—will be required to have your appendixes removed before you arrive. The reason, Medium reports, has a logic grounded in history: The town has a small clinic, but not always a surgeon, and the nearest hospital is more than 600 miles away and difficult to reach. In 1961, Russian explorer and surgeon Leonid Rogozov at the similarly isolated Novolazarevskaya Station suffered life-threatening acute appendicitis and was forced to operate on himself n without anesthesia. The two-hour operation was successful, and Rogozov returned to work two weeks later.

The Continuing Crisis
Dr. Devainder Goli, was watching a movie on his phone as his Tesla drove on autopilot near Spring Hope, North Carolina, early on Aug. 26, according to authorities, before narrowly missing a Nash County Sheriff's deputy and a State Highway Patrol trooper and crashing instead into both of their cruisers. "It could have been very horrific," Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone told WRAL. The officers were conducting an overnight lane closure at the time of the accident. Goli was charged with a moving violation. "We need to understand that automation cannot do everything," Stone said.

Detectives with the Tulare County (California) Sheriff's Office arrested Bhavna Singh Sekon, 23, of Fresno, in late August on suspicion of involvement in an "elaborate" scheme to steal and sell pistachios, to the tune of almost $300,000. According to, detectives were called to Setton Pistachio on Aug. 14 where employees reported someone using the name of a legitimate trucking company had picked up two tractor-trailer loads of pistachios but failed to deliver them. Sheriff's department spokeswoman Ashley Ritchie said detectives discovered the thieves had also stolen the trailers, which were equipped with GPS that allowed authorities to track them down. Sekon was charged with grand theft, looting, identity theft and conspiracy.

Mother Tongue
The Scots Wikipedia is the world's largest open-access compendium of the Scots language, which has been enjoying something of a comeback recently, according to The Guardian, but controversy has arisen since it was revealed that a teenager from North Carolina, who does not speak Scots, is responsible for creating or editing nearly half the entries. Responding to the criticism, the unidentified 19-year-old expressed remorse "after years of my thinking I was doing good. I was only a 12-year-old kid when I started."

Entrepreneurial Spirit
Paul Derham of Dorset, on the southwest coast of England, worked on cruise ships all over the world for 27 years before settling down and taking over two local ferries in Mudeford. As he has gazed out to the English Channel recently, he's seen some of the world's most famous cruise ships, moored and sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic, and he hit upon an idea: using his ferries to conduct tours around the huge, empty vessels. Ghost Cruise Tours offers 2 1/2-hour trips to a socially distanced 30 passengers at a time, and has become a hit. "I am completely overwhelmed with the attention," Derham told CNN Travel. He plans to run the tours through the fall as long as the weather holds out.

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