NEWS OF THE WEIRD

Pedestrian speed-bump at Beijing tourist attraction

Pedestrian Calming

— Officials in charge of a Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal heritage site recently installed “speed bumps,” similar to those familiar to Americans driving residential streets — but on a pedestrian walkway, with row upon row of risers to resemble a washboard. A Western travel writer, along with editors of People’s Daily China, suggested that officials were irked that “disorderly” tourists had been walking past the ancient grounds too rapidly to appreciate its beauty or context. [Daily Telegraph (London), 5-4-2017]

Bright Ideas

— Compared to busy coastal metropolises, Indiana may evoke repose, and entrepreneur Tom Battista is suggesting the state’s largest city capitalize on the sentiment by reserving a destination site on a low-lying hill overlooking the chaotic merge lanes of two interstate highways — affording visitors leisurely moments watching the frantic motorists scrambling below. He plans three rows of seats and a sunshade for the relaxed gawkers to take in the “ocean”-like roar and imagine overwrought drivers’ rising blood pressure (while their own remains soothingly calm). [WTHR-TV (Indianapolis, 4-25-2017]

Weird Science

Medical researchers have been frustrated for years at failures in getting certain cancer-fighting drugs to reach targeted areas in women’s reproductive tracts, but doctors in Germany announced in April a bold technique that appeared to work: sending the drugs via sperm cells, which seem to roam without obstruction as they search for an egg. The process involves coating active sperm cells with an iron adhesive and magnetically steering them to their internal targets. [Phys.org, 4-14-2017]

News That Sounds Like a Joke

— Sean Clemens, now awaiting trial in Liberty, Ohio, in the death of an 84-year-old woman, allegedly confessed his guilt to a co-worker after telling the man that something was bothering him that he needed to tell someone about — but only if the co-worker would “pinkie-swear” not to tell anyone else. (The co-worker broke the code.) [WKBN-TV (Youngstown), 4-25-2017]

— In the course of pursuing claims against Alaskan dentist Seth Lookhart for Medicaid fraud, government investigators found a video on his phone of him extracting a sedated patient’s tooth — while riding on a hoverboard. (He had apparently sent the video to his office manager under the title “New Standard of Care.”) Lookhart had been indicted in 2016 for billing Medicaid $1.8 million for patient sedations unnecessary for the procedures they received. [Alaska Dispatch News, 4-21-2017]

Perspective

In April, Tennessee state representative Mike Stewart, aiming to make a point about the state’s lax gun-sales laws and piggybacking onto the cuddly feeling people have about children’s curbside lemonade stands, set up a combination stand on Nashville’s Capitol Hill, offering for sale lemonade, cookies — and an AK-47 assault rifle (with a sign reading “No Background Check,” to distinguish the private-sale AK-47 from one purchased from a federally licensed dealer). (In fact, some states still regulate lemonade stands more than gun sales — by nettlesome “health department” and anti-competitive rules and licensing, though Tennessee allows the stands in most neighborhoods as long as they are small and operated infrequently.) [WKRN-TV (Nashville), 4-5-2017]

Ironies

The parliament of Australia’s New South Wales, entertaining a February citizen petition to cut societal “waste,” admitted that the petition’s required 107,000 signatures (already on a USB stick) would, by rule, have to be submitted in hard copy (4,000 pages), even though the pages would immediately be electronically scanned into a format for data storage. [Sydney Morning Herald, 2-26-2017]

People Different From Us

In March, an electrician on a service call at a public restroom in Usuki, Japan, discovered a crawlspace above the urinal area, which had apparently been a man’s home (with a space heater, gas stove and clothing). Investigators learned that Takashi Yamanouchi, 54, a homeless wanderer, had been living there continuously for three years — and had arranged everything very tidily, including the 300-plus plastic two-liter bottles of his urine. (It was unclear why he was storing his urine when he resided above a public restroom.) [Rocket News, 4-24-2017]

Wrecked 700hp Dodge Challenger Hellcat which can reach 200 mph
Deandre Chiney, 17, and Jordon Neely, 19, are in jail after losing control of stolen cars

Least Competent Criminals

Not Ready For Prime Time: (1) In March, WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C., broadcast surveillance video of a 7-Eleven armed robbery in the city’s northeast sector — since some footage offered a clear picture of the suspect’s face. Moments into the robbery, the man peered upward, caught sight of the camera and, shocked, reached for his apparently forgotten ski mask on top of his head, where (better late than never) he pulled it into place. (2) In November, three teenagers were arrested after stealing superfast Dodge cars in the middle of the night from a dealership in St. Peters, Missouri. (After driving less than a mile, police said, the three had lost control of their cars, crashing them, including “totaling” two 700-horsepower Challenger Hellcats.) [WTTG-TV, 3-28-2017] [KTVI (St. Louis), 11-16-2017

No Longer Weird

Police in East Palestine, Ohio, said the 8-year-old boy who commandeered the family car and drove his sister, 4, to the local McDonald’s for a cheeseburger on April 9 was different from the usual underaged drivers in that he caused no problems. Witnesses said he followed traffic signals en route, which the boy attributed to learning from YouTube videos. [WFMJ-TV (Youngstown), 4-12-2017]