Police in Lima, Peru have arrested some members of a gang who murdered people for their fat. Dozens of people have been killed, the fat removed from the bodies and sold for use in cosmetics. The investigation began when police got word that a shipment of human fat was coming into Lima by bus from the mountains. Now they are continuing to search for more gang members and the buyers. Police are also looking at 60 disappearances in the area the gang was running to see how many of them could be traced back to the human fat traffickers. No vacationing in Peru unless your anorexic people! http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/reuters/091120/odds/odd_us_peru_crime_odds
2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the first Wallace and Gromit film, A grand Day Out, which introduced the cheese-loving inventor and his more practical pooch to the world. So popular have these characters become that they are credited with saving the British cheese industry (Sky News), and perhaps even the whole UK economy (Telegraph). So the timing was probably a bit inopportune for the voice of Wallis, Peter Sallis, to admit that he never touches the stuff (Telegraph).
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the coming down of the Berlin Wall, so what better way to celebrate than by building a new one, out of chocolate. Patrick Roger, a chocolatier from Paris France, decided to commemorate the historic reunification of East and West Germany by building a 15m long replica of the wall out of 900 kg of chocolate, complete with uncanny reproductions of the spray painted graffiti made with coloured cocoa butter. The chocolate wall was later "torn down" and broken up on November 9th, exactly 20 years after the original (ChocoParis).
And this isn’t the only feat of chocolate engineering in recent weeks. The “New World Whakatane” Bakery, from Australia's "baby brother" New Zealand, set a Guinness World Record this month for baking the world’s largest chocolate log. At over 35 metres in length and weighing in at nearly 78 kilos, the confectionary monster smashed the previous record of a measly 10 metres, but fell short of the 50 metres they had hoped for. Once the new record had been verified, the log was cut into slices and sold to raise money for a teenage cancer charity (TVNZ).
Still more gargantuan grub now as hundreds of students from the University of California at Berkeley became sushi chefs for a day by helping to roll a 330 foot “California roll” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of UoC’s Center for Japanese Studies. The sushi roll broke the previous record of 300 feet, and contained 200 lbs of rice and 180 lbs of fish, the last 15 feet was made with tofu for the benefit of attending vegetarians (Boston Herald).
If you don't like having to run over to wherever your tissue box is 100 times a day when you have a cold you can buy this remote control tissue box. If you understand Japanese you can buy one at this site:
A couple visiting a safari park in Johannesburg, South Africa got a bit closer to nature than they expected after one of the Lions, a juvenile male, calmly got hold of the rear door handle in his teeth and pulled it open. After a shocked moment, the driver gunned the engine and the vehicle took off with the lion in hot pursuit. It was finally driven off by wardens at the exit gates (Daily Mail).
Meanwhile Mr Zhu, a 61 year-old retired teacher from China’s Jiangxi province, let his curiosity get the better of him during a vistit to the circus in Nankang, and put his hand though the bars of a tiger’s cage to feel its fur. The tiger promptly bit off four of his fingers. Zhu collapsed on the spot with shock, but survived to receive 3500 yuan (about $500) in compensation. The tiger was unharmed by the incident, but felt hungry again 15 minutes later (Times of India).
Less aggressive, but equally troubling, is the giant bear that has made its home near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, described by one resident as “super smart”. The residents of Incline Village are enduring almost nightly visits from a 700 lb black bear that has already caused $70000 of damage this year. The bear has evaded the traps set for it and the patrols looking for it, and has even survived a couple of rounds from a .44 magnum, one of which reportedly bounced off its skull (Las Vegas Sun).
In other (not actually) bear news, Australian marsupial pinup the Koala is looking at a bleak future according to recent reports. The loss of eucalyptus trees through deforestation, dog attacks and car accidents are stressing the animals to such an extent that they are succumbing to usually harmless viral infections. Frank Carrick of Queensland University’s Koala Study Program said the koalas were in “diabolical trouble” and that their numbers were “declining alarmingly”. (Washington Post). The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are fewer than 100000 koalas left in the wild, maybe as few as 43000, and the mainland population could go extinct in as little as 30 years (New Scientist).
Finally, a crocodile bit of more than it could chew this week when it strayed too close to a bloat of hippopotami and their young, who promptly formed a threatening defensive ring. Startled, the crocodile attempted to escape over the backs of the angry hippos, a fatal mistake. The croc’s scaly hide was no defence against the 3000-4000 lbs of bite pressure of an adult hippo, and it was soon crushed to death in their jaws (Telegraph).
It's a far cry from the cretaceous period where, according to new fossil finds, crocodiles were the extraordinarily successful inhabitants of a swampy region that was to become the Sahara Desert. Given nicknames like "boarcroc" and "ratcroc", the fossils show a plethora of different crocodile species living alongside each other, with each adapted to different ways of life. Some, like "dogcroc" and "duckcroc" have oddly shaped braincases that suggest they may have been considerably more intelligent than their modern descendants (Times).
First up, scientists at the University of Leeds in Great Britain have determined that if you want to meet the right man, the optimum amount of flesh to flash is 40%. Less than that and you might appear too dowdy to catch his eye, any more and you’re more likely to attract a stalker than a soul mate. Psychologist Colin Hendrie had his four female assistants perform demanding “undercover” surveillance in Leeds’ nightclubs, recording how women were dressed and how often they were approached on concealed dictaphones. But it wasn’t just the women who were being judged. Hendie’s results also showed that the most successful approaches came from men who were neither too thin nor too fat and at least a head taller than their target. It also revealed that 30% of clubbers left as couples, though only 20% arrived so (Daily Mail).
Sadly, this research came too late for Geisy Arruda of Sao Paolo in Brazil, who caused a near riot at the city’s Bandeirante University by turning up for lectures in a mini-dress. Despite Brazil’s normally “relaxed” attitude to skimpy clothing, campus dress is often more conservative and Ms Arruda’s short, pink sheath dress attracted more than a few comments and cat-calls. She eventually had to be escorted from lectures, and the campus, by security and was later expelled for breaching the University’s ethical and moral standards and for offending its “academic dignity”. Her ban was promptly reversed however when she became a bit of a cause celebre, and Brazil’s Education Ministry became involved (CNEWS).
And yet more conflict ensued between academia and allure this past month when a number of female students from the prestigious Cambridge University in England posed for “cheesecake” shots for an in-house online magazine. Predictably, some called immediately for the images to be removed as they were demeaning to women saying that as a University, Cambridge should “do better”, an attitude site co-founder Taymoor Atighetchi dismissed as “intellectual snobbery" (Telegraph).
However support of a sort for the (very) fresh-women came from an unexpected quarter this week when Jill Berry, president of the UK “Girls’ Schools Association”, said that wanting to be fashionable did not make girls shallow. Speaking at the GSA annual conference, Mrs Berry said caring about your physical appearance wasn’t a betrayal of feminist ideals, and insisted that girls can have fun while also being taken seriously (Guardian).
But ladies, if you’re still unsure what to wear, then remember that other way to a man’s heart. That’s certainly an option for Jules Clancy, a food scientist from Sydney in Australia, who bagged a table for two at the world’s highest rated restaurant, the “El Bulli” in Spain, only to break up with her partner before the big night. In a moment of inspiration, Ms. Clancy decided to advertise online for a new dinner partner, and has been inundated with offers, though whether it is her charms or the food’s that is the draw is unclear (Orange).
(Picture: "Stupefyin’ JonesMoonbeam McSwine" from Al Capp's Li'l Abner.)
In case you wanted to know how to turn a sphere inside out without creasing it, this short video shows how to do it. It doesn't make any sense to me, but maybe someone out there can explain how the solution doesn't crease. Another bonus -- it seems to be narrated by two androids.
At least it's interesting to watch. Maybe turn off the sound so you don't have to listen to the narration?
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.