Prank phone calls- 'Is your refrigerator running?' 'Better go catch it!' or 'Do you have Prince Albert in a can?' 'Better go let him out!'. Most kids make a few harmless, if annoying to the receiver, calls at some point. Not a big deal right? Well it's becoming a big deal to hotels across the country. Pranksters are calling guests, and in some cases employees, with outrageous requests in the name of emergencies. In Orlando, Florida a vacationing police officer did $5,000 worth of damage to a room because a caller claiming to be the front desk clerk told his wife there was a gas leak. The man had thrown a mattress out the window and the couple and their three children were instructed to jump to 'safety'. Fortunately the Hotel Manager showed up, on a noise complaint, in time to stop them. No charges were filed, nor was the couple made to pay the damages as they believed it was a real emergency. In Arkansas hotel employees were convinced to test the emergency alarms by a caller claiming to work for the sprinkler system company. They subsequently caused $50,000 worth of damage. A Comfort Suites in Alabama was damaged to the tune of $10,000 by sprinklers being set off. This time by a guest who callers had fooled into thinking there was a fire in the hotel. Then we have the Nebraska debacle. Employees were instructed to pull the fire alarm. Next they were told to break the front window to stop the alarm. The employees asked a truck driver to drive into the front of the building to break the widow, and he obliged them. Wow, phone pranks have come a long way since the days of 'Could you page Richard Hurtz, oh he goes by Dick.' http://www.orl.com/news/local/breakingnews/orl-bk-hotel-prank-070809,0,5685745.story
Many people joke about it, and there is even a dessert named Death by Chocolate, but it is no laughing matter. A man working at a chocolate processing plant in New Jersey lost his footing, fell into the large melting vat, and was hit in the head by the agitator.
This is a formal correction of and apology for the above post. The Portland in the story referred to in the above post is in Maine not Oregon. Therefore the crime statistics I quoted were for Portland, Oregon as well. The correct statistics for Portland, Maine for 2006 are as follows; murders 3, forcible rapes 36, robberies 149, assaults 88, burglaries 539, theft 2709, and auto theft 193. The population at the time was 63,892. Again, my apologies for the mistake. But I stand by the opinion that police resources would be better used on something more substantial than some pilfered roses.
These are the crime statistics for Portland, Oregon for 2006, the most recent ones found; murders 20, forcible rapes 293, robberies 1297, assaults 2262, burglaries 5485, theft 22,033, and auto theft 4478 per a population of 542,174. But there is another crime in Portland that has required an increased police presence. Portland P.D. is bumping up patrols around the Deering Oak Rose Circle in Deering Oak Park. There resides 600 rose bushes that are referred to by .the horticulture supervisor as ' a jewel to the city of Portland'. Apparently some 100 blooms have been 'poached' (picked?) by person or persons unknown this year. This is a substantial increase from last year. Therefore earning the above mentioned extra patrols. Keeping Portland safe one rose at a time. http://news.aol.com/article/thorny-thief-snips-100-rose-blooms-from/561672
An annoying drunk disrupted traffic on a road in Berlin, Germany earlier today. It wasn't a human drunk though. A badger ate fermented cherries and wondered into the middle of the road. He was so comfortable there that police had to force him off the road with a broom. check out the staggering details here- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31800290/ns/world_news-weird_news/
An all too human fellow was found to be drunk during a traffic stop in Rising Sun, Maryland. He was also found to be missing his pants. When asked he told the cop he lost them, but there weren't any pants in the car with him. Wonder where he lost them. Oh, and the traffic offence that got him pulled over in the first place was speeding. The posted limit was 50 mph, he was doing 69. Read the naked truth- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31795305/ns/us_news-weird_news/
Men are now obsolete, thanks to work by scientists at the Northeast England Stem Cell Institute. Professor Karim Nayernia and team have managed a "scientific first" by inducing stem cells into becoming artificial sperm in laboratory conditions. In mice, these sperm have proven able to fertilise eggs and produce viable offspring, opening the door to potential new infertility treatments in humans. Additionally, the stem cells themselves may come from either sex, raising the possibility of children being born without the traditional male input. Any such treatment is many years away however, and there are still problems to be overcome, not least that all the mice babies so far produced by this technique had abnormally short lives. Nayernia admits that the process is not perfect, but says that it could be ready for human trials in less than ten years (Telegraph).
But mothers, don't kick out the old man yet, not if you want a little help with the childcare that is. A team from the "Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution" in France has confirmed a prediction of the theory of evolution that fathers will invest more in children that resemble them. A total of 30 Senegalese families were studied and the paternal investment and resemblance were quantified for each. As expected, there was a significant correlation between the resemblance and investment scores, but also between investment and the nutrition and health of the child. So it seems we fathers still have our uses, for now (Science Daily).
Animals do many weird things to avoid being eaten, from camouflage, to making themselves look bigger or more dangerous, to having a false head or eye on a less vital point to divert attackers. However, one spider has a tactic that's never been observed before; it makes decoy models of itself. The Cyclosa mulmeinensis spider of Orchid Island, near Taiwan, decorates its web with pellets of silk the same size and (to wasps) colour as itself, then hides among them. Researchers from Tunghai University were actually able to observe wasp predators attacking the decoys while the spider escaped, confirming the effectiveness of the trick. The strategy is not without risk though, by having more spider sized blobs on it, the web may also be easier for the wasps to detect (Daily Mail).
UK tourist attraction Wookey Hole, a theme park built around a large hole in the ground, is advertising for a live-in witch. The job also requires that the person taking it teach witchcraft and magic to the tourists, cackle, and not be allergic to cats. You are also expected to provide your own "magical accoutrements", though no mention is made on whether you can claim back the broom as a travel expense. Because of anti-discrimination laws in Britain, both women and men can apply for the position, which pays £50k ($80k) pro-rata (BBC News).
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.