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News » News Quirks

Reply-All Follies



Curses, Foiled Again
Investigators identified Thomas McMartin, 56, as the person who planted a motion-activated camera in a women’s locker room at New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute because he inadvertently photographed himself setting up the camera. “We have recovered numerous still photos which do indicate numerous female adults in various stages of undress, and we have recovered digital evidence which implicates the defendant,” Troy police Capt. John Cooney said. (Troy’s The Record)

State police said Christopher Wallace, 42, broke into a home in Lake Ariel, Pa., and stole several items, but “was greedy” and returned to the residence looking for more loot. The suspect went to the second floor, where he opened a door that led to the outside and fell approximately 20 feet to the ground. He broke his back, his hip and an arm. (Honesdale’s Wayne Independent)

Reply-All Follies
London-based Aviva Investors inadvertently sent an email notifying its entire worldwide staff of 1,300 workers that they’d been dismissed and reminding them to turn over company property as they left their workplace. “It was intended that this email should have gone to one single person,” company official Paul Lockstone explained, adding, “From time to time, things go wrong.” (Bloomberg News)

Extraterrestrial Threat
The British government added solar storms to its official list of threats to national security. The update to the National Risk Register for Civil Emergencies warned that “severe space weather” threatens communications systems, electronic circuits and power grids. (Associated Press)

Shortsighted Marketing
When earthquakes in Indonesia revived memories of the 2004 Asian tsunami that killed 230,000 people, including more than 8,000 in Thailand, KFC Thailand recognized an opportunity to sell fried chicken. It posted a Facebook message urging people to “hurry home and follow the earthquake news. And don’t forget to order your favorite KFC menu.” (Associated Press)

A Chinese company whose slogan is “You see the world, the world sees you” has begun selling Helen Keller-brand sunglasses. Company official Chen Wenjing said the marketing team was aware of Keller’s blindness but insisted the glasses were inspired by her traditions of philanthropy and optimism. (Time)

Tease of the Week
German researcher Thomas Hildebrandt heads a project called Project Frozen Dumbo, whose mission is to collect semen from wild elephants to avoid inbreeding among zoo elephants. Hildebrandt, of Berlin’s Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, travels to South Africa and searches for wild bulls by helicopter. He immobilizes the animals using a narcotic dart, then applies a procedure called “electro-ejaculation,” which uses a 5-to-15-volt charge to force out a sperm sample. The challenge, Hildebrandt explained, is that the anesthetic in the dart triggers a muscle contraction that causes the elephant’s 1.5-meter-long penis to retract into its cavity. “In order to extract the sperm hygienically, we have to get the tip out and clean it,” Hildebrandt explained, noting that doing so takes some teasing. The sperm is then collected and immediately frozen. It costs roughly $130,000 to collect three liters of elephant sperm, enough to impregnate 65 cows—theoretically speaking, because although Project Frozen Dumbo has been collecting semen this way for two years, no female elephant has yet to be successfully inseminated with sperm that has been previously frozen. “But we’re close to it,” Hildebrandt said. “We’re very, very optimistic.” (Sweden’s The Local)

When Guns Are Outlawed
Police accused Lawrence Deptola, 49, of trying to rob three banks in Utica, N.Y., by threatening tellers with a toilet plunger. He was apprehended outside the third bank. (Utica’s WKTV-TV)

Good News for Ted Nugent
Mayor Bob Buckhorn issued a list of items that will be considered security threats at this summer’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. On it are masks, plastic or metal pipe, string more than six inches long, air pistols and water pistols. Real pistols, however, are allowed. “If we’d tried to regulate guns, it wouldn’t have worked,” City Attorney Jim Shimberg said, noting that state law bans all restrictions on carrying firearms in public places. “Any local ordinance that regulates guns is void.” (Tampa Bay Times)

What Could Go Wrong?
After more than 60 years of strict regulation and licensing requirements, Tokyo’s city government announced it’s relaxing rules governing the preparation of blowfish, known as fugu. Until now, aspiring fugu chefs had to apprentice with a veteran chef for at least two years before taking rigorous written and practical exams, whose fee runs to $220. The requirements assure that chefs know how to separate the edible parts of the fish from organs filled with tetrododoxin, which is deadlier than cyanide. “There is the hope that the number of restaurants with unlicensed chefs serving blowfish will rise, and that blowfish as an ingredient will be used not only for traditional Japanese foods, but also others such as Chinese and Western foods,” said Hironobu Kondo, an official at the city’s Food Control Department, indicating that outside Tokyo, where blowfish regulations are already more relaxed, “there are hardly any poison-related accidents.” (Reuters)

Bovine Episodes
A sheriff’s deputy who pulled over a Honda Civic in Luna County, N.M., reported the vehicle contained three men and a 220-pound calf in the backseat. When the men couldn’t produce a bill of sale for the animal, they were arrested on suspicion of rustling. (Carlsbad Current-Argus)

After two hikers found six frozen cows wedged inside a remote log cabin in the Colorado Rockies, the U.S. Forest Service said it faces the problem of how to dispose of the carcasses now that they’re thawing. “They’re going to be scavenged,” Forest Service official Steve Segin said, identifying the biggest concern as bears coming out of hibernation. “We don’t want a bad encounter between people and wildlife.”

Because the cabin is in the protected Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area outside Aspen, restrictions hamper the cows’ removal. “We can’t use any mechanical means,” Segin said. “No aircraft, no helicopters, no chain saws, no ATVs.” There’s also a fire ban. As a result, the Forest Service is considering blowing up the cabin with the cows inside. The Colorado Cattleman’s Association said the animals probably entered the cabin seeking shelter during a snowstorm, couldn’t figure out how to exit it and starved to death. (Denver’s KMGH-TV)

How Other Governments Define Cheating
Pal Schmitt announced his resignation as president of Hungary after Budapest’s Semmelweis University revoked his doctorate because he plagiarized most of his dissertation. Schmitt, who was elected to a five-year term in 2010, told Parliament his “personal issue” is dividing the country. (Associated Press)