Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weird? Yes. Strange? Yes – But True!

I do a blog on strange stories every now and then. I take these from articles I find in real newspapers or online magazines and assume they are true. I do them to remind us that perhaps we shouldn't be so arrogant about being smarter than the animals we share the planet with...

Neighbors in the Mandarin neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida, complained to the city recently about a resident who scattered hundreds of mothballs -- over 400 now, at least -- around her front yard, even driving over them in her car to crush them open and extend their noxious odor. The National Pesticide Information Center warned that the mothballs were hazards to plants, wildlife, water and air, but the female resident (unnamed in a report by First Coast News) said she was forced into the tactic in order to prevent neighborhood dogs from defecating in her yard.

Carnell Alexander at one point owed about $60,000 in child support for a kid he did not father (according to a DNA test) and knew nothing about, but despite "successfully" challenging the claim 20 years ago, he still owes about $30,000. The mother who accused him long ago admitted lying (in that naming a "father" was necessary to get welfare benefits), and while a judge thus wiped out Alexander's debt to her, the state of Michigan nonetheless still demands that Alexander repay benefits it had paid to the mother.

In October, another premier world sports event reached its climax, with one team left standing, rewarded for months of grueling practices, to the cheers of adoring, frenzied fans. The "world series" of professional team computer games was settled on a stage in a packed, 40,000-seat stadium in Seoul before three gigantic TV screens and an Internet audience of millions. The powerhouse Samsung White team out-moused and -keyboarded the Chinese champions at "League of Legends" (which 27 million gamers worldwide play every day), using its fantasy characters to destroy opponents' bases. The winning team took home $1 million of corporate money, but future earnings should escalate when idolized world-class players unionize and swing merchandising endorsement deals.

Literature professor Thomas Docherty was back at work in October following his nine-month suspension from the University of Warwick for "inappropriate sighing" during meetings with a senior colleague, along with "making ironic comments" and "negative body language."

In October, Andrew Davies, 51, was ordered by magistrates in High Wycombe, England, not to lie down in public places anymore (unless genuinely stricken by emergency). Previously, he had a habit of making bogus "999" (911) calls to get attention, and when police confiscated his phone, he began compensating by lying in roads until compassionate passersby called for ambulances.

More than 6 million students have downloaded the new iPhone app PhotoMath to solve Algebra I and Algebra II problems by pointing the phone's camera at a printed equation. The answer, and the explanation, quickly appear on a screen, as a teaching tool -- or for the students to show "their" work if PhotoMath is used on exam questions. The Croatia-based developer told the Quartz website in October that it is working on upgrades for higher-level math equations (though no relief is in sight for those chronically annoying "word problems"). Meanwhile, the debate has been triggered over whether PhotoMath is a dynamic technological advance in education -- or a cheating-enabler.

Today’s Reflection:  
I’m smiling. This should scare you.

Live Long and Prosper…

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