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News » News of the Weird

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

A weekly roundup of international news oddities.



The Entrepreneurial Spirit
About a year ago, Les and Paula Ansley of Mossel Bay, South Africa, stumbled upon a novel idea for a new type of spirit, which they call Indlovu Gin, the Associated Press reports. During a safari, they learned that elephants eat a wide variety of fruits and flowers, but digest less than a third. "As a consequence, in the elephant dung, you get the most amazing variety of these botanicals," Les Ansley said. "Why don't we let the elephants do the hard work of collecting all these botanicals and we will make gin from it?" Why, indeed? They collect the dung themselves, by hand, and describe their gin's flavor as "lovely, wooded, almost spicy, earthy." ("Indlovu" means elephant in the Zulu language.) Each bottle's label notes where the dung was gathered and when. "Most people are very keen to actually taste it," Ansley said. A bottle sells for about $32.

Fine Points of the Law
After losing in district court, convicted killer Benjamin Schreiber took an unusual claim to the Iowa Court of Appeals, but was shut down again on Nov. 6, according to The Washington Post. Schreiber, 66, was sentenced to a life term in 1997, but in March 2015, he suffered a medical emergency in his prison cell that caused doctors to have to restart his heart five times. Schreiber thus claimed he had briefly "died," and therefore he had served out his life sentence and should be released. The district judge didn't buy it, though, saying the filing proved he was still alive, and the appeals court agreed, saying, "Schreiber is either alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is dead, in which case this appeal is moot."

Higher Education
A Dutch university now offers students a turn in the "purification grave," a hole dug in the ground where students can lie down and reflect on their lives for up to three hours. The student chaplaincy at Radboud University initially offered the experience in 2009 as a temporary experiment, but due to increased demand, it's back this year, according to Vice. Students are not allowed to bring their phones or a book with them into the grave. "You can see it as a special place of meditation: below you the earth, above you the sky," the university website explains. "You will then automatically notice what is going through your mind." If you're skittish about entering the grave, you can sit on the bench nearby. Radboud also offers a finals-season "crying room" and nap pods.

The Continuing Crisis
Female employees in Japan who wear eyeglasses are seeing red after some companies there have reportedly banned eyewear for their women workers, according to the BBC. While some retailers have said women in glasses give a "cold impression," the hashtag #glassesareforbidden has been trending, and Kumiko Nemoto, professor of sociology at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, spoke out against the "outdated" policies: "It's all about gender. It's pretty discriminatory. ... The company values the women's appearance as being feminine and that's the opposite to someone who wears glasses." Japanese women have also rebelled against policies that require them to wear high heels.

Bright Idea
Subhash Yadav, 42, of Jaunpur, India, visited a market to eat eggs with a friend, News18 reported on Nov. 4, but the two fell into an argument. To settle the dispute, police said, Yadav accepted a challenge to eat 50 eggs in exchange for 2,000 rupees. He ate 41 eggs, but just as he began to eat the 42nd, he collapsed, unconscious. He was rushed to the hospital but died a few hours later. Doctors claimed Yadav died of overeating, but family members would not comment.

Least Competent Criminal
On Oct. 30, Hudson, Fla., resident Michael Psilakis, 21, lost $1,000 in a card game to an unnamed man, which a witness told police upset Psilakis, reported the Tampa Bay Times. When the man was reported missing, Pasco County Sheriff's deputies started their investigation with Psilakis, who told them the victim had dropped him off at his mother's house after the card game, so when the man turned up dead in a burned-out Ford Taurus, police visited Psilakis' mother. During her interview, Psilakis called his mother, according to court documents, and officers recorded the conversation. In it he told his mom he had burned his legs throwing gas on the car and they needed to coordinate their stories so he was coming right over. When he arrived, police found a stolen handgun in his car along with a cellphone containing internet searches for "can u shoot through a seat" and "how to treat burns." Deputies arrested him on weapons charges on Nov. 2 and later added first-degree murder, grand theft of a motor vehicle and resisting arrest.

The Northern Echo, a newspaper in northeast England, is catching it from an area family after it ran an obituary on Nov. 10 for Charlie Donaghy, a local sports enthusiast and teacher—who is not dead yet. In fact, his son, Ian, reports that Charlie is "alive and well," according to Fox News. The Echo published an apology the next day, but Ian posted on Facebook that "you can't UNHEAR or UNREAD that your Dad's dead! ... Northern Echo website arseclownery!" A statement from the Donaghy family said the mistake has "caused immeasurable distress" and is "unforgivable."

Government in Action
Residents of a small Canadian island off the coast of Maine are up in arms and demanding that the province of New Brunswick either establish a year-round ferry service or build a bridge to the mainland because their mail keeps getting opened by U.S. Customs. Mail to Campobello Island has to cross the border by sealed truck into Maine before it reaches the island, which rarely caused problems, reports Fox News, until last year, when Canada legalized recreational cannabis. Since then, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been searching for marijuana ordered from Cannabis NB, the only authorized seller of cannabis in the province. Cannabis NB has now stopped shipping packages to the island, but U.S. customs officials continue to search the mail, and the island's residents are fed up. "Expectations of privacy that the rest of Canada has just don't exist on Campobello," said Justin Tinker, a local engineer. Politicians are said to be open to the idea of the ferry, but there are no plans in place to fund the project.

Hot Springs, Ark., paramedic Lisa Darlene Glaze, 50, was arrested on Nov. 11 after she allegedly cut a 1.7-carat diamond ring off the finger of a dead woman and sold it to a local pawn shop. The patient, Gloria Robinson, had been transported to a medical facility on Oct. 16, where she later died. When her personal items were returned to her family, they noticed three of her rings were missing, according to arrest documents. KTHV reports two of the rings were found, but investigators say Glaze sold the third ring at Hot Springs Classic Gun and Pawn for $45, and the band had been cut. Robinson's sister retrieved the ring from the pawn shop and had it appraised, revealing it was worth almost $8,000. Glaze was charged with felony theft and misdemeanor unlawful transfer of stolen property.

For the person on your gift list this year who can't get enough ranch dressing, Hidden Valley comes to the rescue with a decorative plastic stocking full of its creamy nectar. FanSided reports the Hidden Valley Ranch Custom Holiday Stocking measures 105 square inches festooned in red and green and filled with 52 ounces of Original Ranch. It comes with its own mantle holder and has a handy pouring spout at the toe. All that ranchy fun costs just $35. Time to get dippin'!

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