They say news travels fast, but in the speed stakes it can’t hold a candle to dumb. Circling the blogosphere like an angry Superman is news that security guard Jason Cooke has managed to sight the Loch Ness monster on Google Earth. The object, which Cooke claims exactly matches the descriptions of Nessie, is clearly visible as a quadrupedal, long-necked plesiosaur-like creature, and in no way could be the wake behind a boat or anything mundane like that. This latest find comes as a relief to many cryptozoologists, who had expressed concerns that the dearth of recent sightings might mean Nessie had fallen victim to Global Warming (Telegraph).
Or perhaps this is simply proof that Scottish universities have got the jump on their transatlantic counterparts? In a move nearly, but not quite, totally unlike Jurassic Park, Professor Hans Larsson of McGill University in Montreal has announced that he hopes to de-evolve chickens back into their dinosaur ancestors. Larsson stressed that he is not aiming to recreate whole dinosaurs at this time, but by switching on or off certain genes in chick embryos he hopes to induce atavistic dinosaur anatomy in the full grown animals (AFP).
First up, let's take a moment to savour pest control, Texas Style. Farmer Skip Smith, from Dublin, TX, is so fed up with feral hogs busting in to his watermelon patch and eating his crops that he’s fighting back with the aid of night-vision goggles and a silenced, fully automatic machine-gun. “The same thing that our forces use in Iraq, we're just using them on animals," Smith said, “we shoot about 45 to 50 a week on 1000 acres." Which is a hell of a lot of free bacon (ABC).
But if there is one food that might possibly challenge bacon as the mightily meaty master of my heart, it would be southern fried chicken. So what could be better than a sandwich that includes both? Well, how about one that leaves out that pointless bread stuff and puts the slices of gorgeous bacon between two hot, fresh fried chicken fillets? That is the idea behind what some reports are claiming is the latest creation from KFC, the “double-down” sandwich. Bacon, cheese and the “Colonel’s special sauce” are sandwiched between the chain’s house-style fried chicken in a heart-stopping 1200 calorie mouthful. And the day this launches near me officially marks the end of my banana diet (AJC).
James May built a garden out of plasticine, but is really excited for his new Lego house. The Top Gear presenter is hosting a show called "Toy Stories", and wants the lavatory to work. Now if he can only get enough Legos -- got extras?
News of the Weird / Pro Edition
August 24, 2009 (news from August 15-22)
If Zombies Attack for Real, We're Toast
Two math professors in Canada modeled a zombie outbreak as a major infectious disease, to predict whether we non-necros could fight back. Not a chance, they conclude. After all, this is one "infection" that would just keep reviving itself every time we killed it, unless we killed it in just the correct way (however that is, which is unclear now because movies keep altering the rules of zombie biology). (Bonus: The lead researcher, from the University of Ottawa, is, and I quote, "Robert Smith?," and there is no typo there.) BBC News
The Subtleties of Gender
"Extremely complex" is how a world amateur athletics spokesman described gender verification testing (commenting on the suspicions raised about the champion South African runner Caster Semenya, who is, said her daddy, his "little girl," even though she appears to some like daddy's little boy). Complex? Hey, just pull her pants down, huh?. Or measure her androgen and estrogen levels? Or see if she's got a Y? Well . . no. For athletic-unfairness purposes, those things are indicators but aren't conclusive. Some genitalia are actually in conflict or inactive, and anyway, it's not the dick itself that improves female athletes' performance. It's the hormones, but men can still tilt high on estrogen and women tilt high on androgen. Even the chromosome thing doesn't always work out right. And the hormone deal, itself, gets you into a gray area because so much of superior performance emanates from the body one acquires at birth. World-class athletes are (and I use the term lovingly) freaks of nature, as are sexually-confused transgenders. [On the other hand, just because I'm sympathetic doesn't mean I'm necessarily for letting trannies decide, all to themselves, which restroom they're gonna pee in.]New York Times
That's . . Howard . . Awand Fortune magazine exposes a massive conspiracy among a Las Vegas doctor and a Las Vegas lawyer, and associated cronies, to inflate legal settlements with superfluous medical tests. Strongest evidence: Clients are sworn to secrecy about the name of the fixer who puts the doctor and lawyer together for them. That would be Howard Awand. Oops. Anyway, I read somewhere that people are innocent until howardawand proved guilty in a court of law so let's not jump to conclusions. After all, Fortune's only interviewed 40 howardawand players, including two who say they were in on the whole thing. Howard Awand. Fortune
Can't Possibly Be True
Michael Sesera of Blairstown, N.J., needed a little zoning love from the town of Hanover so he could build a convenience store and so did the natural New Jersey thing and offered a $20k bribe to the mayor to make it happen . . and the mayor turned his ass in! The nerve! Associated Press via WCBS Radio
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).
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.
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