In what looks likely to go down as the slowest naval engagement of all time, rival punting companies in the historic English town of Cambridge are apparently engaging in a clandestine war for the city's annual passenger river-trade, worth an estimated £2.5m ($4m). The latest move in what the locals dub "the punt wars" has seen two of the flat, pole-propelled craft belonging to one local operator sawn through from end to end. Until now, some punt companies have stuck to using stink bombs or liquid soap to incapacitate their rivals' craft, or have severed mooring chains so that the boats must be found and recovered before they can start work, but this latest escalation of the conflict, which caused £10k of actual damage, is worrying many people. Some are now calling for a limit on the number of punts allowed to work on the river (Guardian).
Meanwhile, in Milan in Italy, the loan-collateral held in the vault at Credito Emiliano is not only protected by inches of steel and high-tech alarms systems, it's also maintained at the perfect temperature and humidity, and turned and cleaned by automated systems to ensure that it keeps its value. That's because Credito Emiliano is offering the local cheese-makers loans of up to 60% of the value of any parmesan cheese deposited with them. With each parmesan wheel worth 300 euros ($400), and local producers typically putting up 2000 wheels in a year in collateral, this has meant the bank has lent nearly 420 thousand euros ($600k) to each customer against the cheese in their vault. Which is gouda news for the local cheese industry (AP).
If there is one food that could be intimately linked with the German city of Berlin, it's the currywurst. A twisted cousin to the American chilli-dog, from a parallel universe so evil even the women have goatees, the Berlin currywurst is a sliced pork sausage served with plenty of powdered curry and cayenne and covered in a spicy, curry sauce and sold by street vendors to the passing trade. So popular is this snack in Berlin that the city has just opened the Currywurst Museum to show off the dish's history to tourists and locals alike. Partly this is to support Berlin's claims to be the birthplace of the currywurst, but it is also hoped the museum will promote the snack in the face of increasing competition from more conventional fast food. As one might expect from a museum dedicated to this singular foodstuff, the cafeteria includes an authentic currywurst stand (Times).
The Brazilian government has come up with a helpful web site for some of it's citizens. Apparently getting up close and personal enough with someone to give them a sexually transmitted disease doesn't necessarily mean one is close enough to discuss such things. The government has therefore set up a web site for those who have given the gift that keeps on giving to send an e-mail to their recipient(s). There are even cute graphics, like a guy reclining in his underwear telling a past partner to see a doctor for an std check. We all know how private the Internet is, what a great idea! Here's the link for the site (in Spanish) http://www.aids.gov.br/muitoprazer/index.php?qdiganao
and for the story(in English) http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090821/ap_on_fe_st/lt_odd_brazil_std_cards
Thorpe Park in Chertsey. England has a new rule for guests to follow while on the rides. Scream all you wish, just don't raise your arms. Riders are required to keep their elbows at their sides or they can be kicked off rides. Repeat offenders face expulsion from the park. Are there safety concerns causing this new rule with such strict enforcement? Actually the problem is B.O., that's right body odor. Mike Vallis, director of the park, says there have been complaints about smelly patrons raising their arms and subjecting fellow riders to their sweaty armpits.
Mr. Vallis also indicated that with high temperatures and such scary rides people sweat more, which made the rule necessary for the comfort of all the park guests. Once again an attempt to protect everyone from everything. I've got an idea, if you are that sensitive stay home and let hardier souls enjoy their day. http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2009/08/18/BO-keeps-elbows-down-on-coasters/UPI-69831250631532/
Back in Forgotten and Unseen Electronics Part 26 I showed you a plant that contacts you using Twitter. I have now found one that follows the sun so it can get all the light it needs called Plantbot. It's made by the people at Play Coalition.I think this would probably creep people out when they visit your house.
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.