NEWS OF THE WEIRD

Try, Try Again

– Samuel West announced in April that his Museum of Failure will open in Helsingbog, Sweden in June, to commemorate innovation missteps that might serve as inspiration for future successes. Among the initial exhibits: coffee-infused Coca-Cola; the Bic “For Her” pen (because women’s handwriting needs are surely unique); the Twitter Peek (a 2009 device that does nothing except send and receive tweets — and with a screen only 25 characters wide); and Harley-Davidson’s 1990s line of colognes (in retrospect as appealing, said West, as “oil and gas fumes”). (West’s is only the latest attempt to immortalize failure with a “museum.” Previous attempts, such as those in 2007 and 2014, apparently failed.) [CBC Radio, 4-6-2017]

NEW WORLD ORDER

In March, Harvard Medical School technicians announced a smartphone app to give fertility-conscious men an accurate semen analysis, including sperm concentration, motility and total count — costing probably less than $10. Included is a magnification attachment and a “microfluidic” chip. The insertable app magnifies and photographs the “loaded” chip, instantly reporting the results. (To answer the most frequent question: No, semen never touches your phone. The device still needs Food and Drug Administration approval.) [NPR, 3-22-2017]

PRETENTIONS

— Hipsters on the Rise: (1) The Columbia Room bar in Washington, D.C., recently introduced the “In Search of Time Past” cocktail — splashed with a tincture of old, musty books. Management vacuum-sealed pages with grapeseed oil, then “fat-washed” them with a “neutral high-proof” spirit, and added a vintage sherry, mushroom cordial and eucalyptus. (2) The California reggae rock band Slightly Stoopid recently produced a vinyl record that was “smokable,” according to Billboard magazine — using a “super resinous variety of hashish” mastered at the Los Angeles studio Capsule Labs. The first two versions’ sound quality disappointed and were apparently quickly smoked, but a third is in production. [Washingtonian, 11-30-2016] [Billboard, 1-19-2017]

— The telephone “area” code in the tony English city of Bath (01225) is different than that of adjacent Radstock (01761) and probably better explained by landline telephone infrastructure than a legal boundary. However, a Bath councilwoman said in April that she is dealing with complaints by 10 new residents who paid high-end prices for their homes only to find that they came with the 01761 code. Admitted one Bath resident, “I do consider my phone number to be part of my identity.” [SomersetLive, 4-5-2017]

WEIRD SCIENCE

— Magnificent Evolvers: (1) Human populations in Chile’s Atacama desert have apparently developed a tolerance for arsenic 100 times as powerful as the World Health Organization’s maximum safe level (according to recent research by University of Chile scientists). (2) While 80 percent of Americans age 45 or older have calcium-cluttered blood veins (atherosclerosis), about 80 percent of Bolivian Tsimane hunter-gatherers in the Amazon have clean veins, according to an April report in The Lancet. (Keys for having “the healthiest hearts in the world”: walk a lot and eat monkey, wild pig and piranha.) [New Scientist, 2-22-2017] [NPR, 3-21-2017; The Lancet, 3-17-2017]

Awesome: (1) University of Basel biologists writing in the journal Science of Nature in March calculated that the global population of spiders consumes at least 400 million tons of prey yearly — about as much, by weight, as the total of meat and fish consumed by all humans.

redneck chronicles

1) Dennis Smith, 65, was arrested in Senoia, Georgia, and charged with stealing dirt from the elderly widow of the man Smith said had given him permission to take it. Smith, a “dirt broker,” had taken more than 180 dump-truck loads.

(2) New for Valentine’s Day from the SayItWithBeef.com company: a bouquet of beef jerky slices, formed to resemble a dozen full-petaled roses ($59). Also available: daisies. Chief selling point: Flowers die quickly, but jerky is forever. [WAGA-TV (Atlanta), 3-30-2017]

The Aristocrats!

A Worcester County (Maryland) judge fined Ellis Rollins $1,000 in February and gave him a suspended sentence — for the June 2016 ostentatious nude dancing and sex with his wife at an Ocean City, Maryland, hotel window in view of other people on holiday. At the time, Rollins was the Cecil County, Maryland, state’s attorney, but has since resigned. [Washington Post, 2-14-2017] [WTOP Radio (Washington), 2-17-2017]