These contests were made for us WUvians! Let's start with the the International Birdman Competition, held each year in Worthing, England. Contestants have to design a personal flying machine and jump off a pier to see who can get the most air time. Don't like to fly? Then you should look into The One-Foot High Kick, an event that is part of the annual Eskimo-Indian Olympics in Fairbanks, Alaska. Atheletes have to kick a suspended object (some as high as a basketball net) with one foot and then land on that same foot. But if strenuous exercise is not for you, there's always the Papa Look-Alike Contest, held in Key West, Florida, in July each year. This contest only requires that you be a mature, heavy-set man with a full beard (in other words, look like Ernest Hemingway). And ladies, if you can't conjure a beer belly and a full beard, you can participate in The Sauna World Championships, held in Heinola, Finland in August. We can take the heat! For more crazy contests, check out the slideshow on Travel and Leisure Magazine's website.
First up, apologies if this post contains more typos than usual, I'm sending it from my new ultra-small netbook and I'm still getting used to its itty-bitty keyboard. Which brings me nicely to my first story. That according to a survey for satellite channel SKY-HD, British consumers waste £52 billion a year on hi-tech features they don't use. For example, half of the people polled did not know their high definition television also required a hi-def signal source such as a blu-ray player or HD satellite receiver – like the ones sold by SKY-HD perhaps (Telegraph).
And it's not just the the British, military officials in Russia recently discovered 100 front-line battletanks parked and forgotten by the side of the road near Yekaterinburg in the Urals. Locals say the tanks, which were unguarded and unlocked, have been there for several months and lack only ammunition and the all important starter keys (Reuters).
Someone who might have had a use for those tanks were guests at a wedding in New Delhi in India recently. The Hindu ceremony was somewhat marred when an elephant hired for the event went on a rampage after becoming aroused by the smell of a nearby female in heat. The amorous pachyderm then proceeded to crush 20 limousines, smash through a nearby mall and mount a truck before it could be tranquilised (Orange).
Also losing it this week was the man on the RyanAir flight who found he had won 10,000 euros on a scratchcard he bought on the budget flight from Poland to the UK. Furious that the airline had not seen fit to equip all their planes with the requisite amount of cash onboard, hence he could not be given his prize there and then as he demanded, the unnamed passenger ate the winning card rather than wait to claim it at his destination (BBC News).
When I think of the Olympics, I rarely consider that each event has both a mens and a womens division. I tend to focus more on the sport itself regardless of who is competing. After all, the Olympics is supposed to encourage the spirit of friendly competition, and not highlight major flaws, such as gender bias. Unfortunately this year's winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, is doing just that. Women ski jumpers have petitioned to join every Winter Olympics since Nagano in 1998, and each time they have been denied by the International Olympics Committee (IOC). So what's the deal? Well, the IOC is sidestepping the issue. They've issued a written statement that reads "Women's Ski Jumping does not reach the necessary technical criteria and as such does not yet warrant a place alongside other Olympic events." Yet female ski jumpers argue the point (read about it here). Lindsey Van, current world record holder for the longest jump, is quick to point out that they meet the necessary criteria. But it may be a long time before we see women flying off the end of a ski jump in front of Olympic judges. IOC member Dick Pound is quoted as saying "If in the meantime you're making all kinds of allegations about the IOC and how it's discriminating on the basis of gender," he warned, "the IOC may say, 'Oh yeah, I remember them. They're the ones that embarrassed us and caused us a lot of trouble in Vancouver, maybe they should wait another four years or eight years.'" Yes, you read that right. He is publicly threatening female ski jumpers to keep them out of the Olympics for years if they persist. So much for the spirit of friendly competition.
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).
Well, the Swiss have done it and it's been verified by Guinness World Records. The world's smallest gun measures no more then 5.5 cm long and fires 2.34 mm caliber ammunition. It's a double action revolver that functions just like it's bigger siblings. Unfortunately for you American gun collectors out there the SwissMiniGun is not available in the U.S. and cannot be imported, but it's fun to look at. For those of you who may be able to purchase one, they are available in either steel or gold and can apparently be tricked out with diamonds. SwissMiniGun
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.