90 Miles From Tyranny : 10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (1/12/19)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (1/12/19)

Another Saturday means another list which looks at some of the strangest news stories to make the rounds over the last few days. There is also the Friday list which explores the crucial topics of the week.

We start off the new year with multiple science stories covering a variety of fields. We have some machine-on-machine violence and controversy surrounding the latest, high-tech female sex toy. Crows dazzle us with their intelligence, while crickets are apparently responsible for a Cuban “sonic attack.” We explore the science behind double-dipping and marvel at mysterious signals coming from outer space.

10A Doping Scandal

Photo credit: southbendtribune.com

A 90-year-old cyclist was stripped of his world record after failing a drug test.

Back in July 2018, Carl Grove from Bristol, Indiana, took part in the US Masters Track National Championships. He won in the 90–94 age group, but this was not surprising as he was the only competitor. He also set a new world record. However, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) stripped him of his record after the cyclist received two doping violations.

Grove submitted a sample the day of the competition on July 11, and it tested positive for epitrenbolone. He was also using a supplement found to be contaminated with clomiphene. However, another sample that Grove submitted the day prior had no traces of prohibited substances.

It seems that the USADA is inclined to believe the cyclist’s excuse that the drugs “more likely than not” came from tainted cow liver he ate the night before the race. Grove has only been issued a public warning but will have to race again if he wants his record back.[1]

9An Expensive Fish

Photo credit: phys.org

A massive bluefin tuna sold for a record 333.6 million yen ($3.1 million) at a New Year’s auction in Tokyo.

The fish weighed in at 278 kilograms (612 lbs) and was bought by Kiyoshi Kimura, the self-proclaimed “Tuna King” who owns a chain of sushi restaurants. The sale took place at a special auction commemorating the closing of the renowned Tsukiji fish market, which was among the largest seafood markets in the world. It closed last year to make room for parking for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and moved to the new Toyosu facility.

Kimura expressed some buyer’s remorse after the auction. He expected the fish to go for 30–60 million yen, but he ended up paying over five times that. The Tuna King’s purchase doubled the previous record of 155 million yen which was set at the 2013 New Year’s auction.

There was also a lot of pride involved in the sale. Kimura had paid the top price for a fish at six consecutive New Year’s auctions until last year when another businessman outbid him. This year, Kimura made sure that he took back the title.[2]

8An Unexpected Comeback

Axl Rose has released his first new song in over a decade, and he did it in a Looney Tunes cartoon.

Back in the ’90s, Guns N’ Roses was among the most popular music groups in the world. However, tensions between band members caused a long recording hiatus following the release of their 1993 album, The Spaghetti Incident? It took another 15 years for Guns N’ Roses to release their next album, Chinese Democracy, to a lukewarm reception.

This caused front man Axl Rose to go on another long hiatus. During that period, he still toured, regrouped with the band’s classic lineup, and even performed as AC/DC’s new lead singer. But he didn’t record any new material.

That changed recently when he released “Rock the Rock.”[3] The music video features Axl in animated form alongside Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes characters rocking out in an effort to stop an asteroid. The video itself is a snippet from an upcoming New Looney Tunes episode.

7A Daft Mistake

Photo credit: theartnewspaper.com
Scholars from the British Museum admitted to being “daft” after realizing that an artifact they had been displaying as an ancient vase was actually the head of a mace turned upside down.

Until the end of the month, the British Museum is showcasing an exhibition titled No Man’s Land. It presents objects which tell the story of the first border conflict on record between the Sumerian cities of Lagash and Umma during the third millennium BC.

However, while researching the exhibit, curators discovered that one of their artifacts was not what they thought at all. One of their “vases” actually turned out to be a weapon placed upside down.

Scholars realized their blunder after comparing their object with a similar one at Yale University. The artifact was actually the head of a mace or club which was made for King Gishakidu of Umma. Now that it’s right-side up, the decoration on it makes a bit more sense. It is a depiction of a net which was used to immobilize people for execution.[4]

6A Fallen Robot

A unique motoring accident took place on the streets of Las Vegas. Camera footage shows a “self-driving” car committing a hit-and-run on a robot.

The sheer bizarreness of the event plus the fact that the city is currently hosting CES 2019, the largest electronics trade show in the world, has people skeptical of the video’s authenticity. In fact, most have labeled it a publicity stunt. They are probably correct, although nothing is official just yet.[5]

The robot is named Promobot and is the creation of a Russian company also called Promobot. It was run down by a Tesla Model S. The Russian organization wasted no time in milking the “accident” for maximum exposure. Spokespeople for Promobot have given interviews and a press release mourning their fallen comrade. As of this writing, neither Promobot nor Tesla has commented on the alleged hoax.

5A Sonic Conundrum

Photo credit: entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu

Over the last few years, multiple US diplomats and their family members residing at the US embassy in Cuba have complained of strange noises. These brought on a number of symptoms such as vertigo, dizziness, and ringing in the ears. US officials feared they were being targeted by a “sonic attack,” but new research suggests that the bizarre noises were just crickets.

The problem started in 2016. In late 2017, an audio sample of the sound was first released to the public. It has been described as “piercing squeals” and “grinding metal.” However, people were unable to identify the source of the noise. As expected, Cuban officials have vehemently denied orchestrating any kind of “sonic attack” on their American counterparts.

Two scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Lincoln in England claim that the sound is caused by the Indies short-tailed cricket. They have analyzed the audio sample, and multiple characteristics such as oscillations per pulse, repetition rate, power spectrum, and duration match the insect’s chirps.

There are some inconsistencies between the two which the researchers blame on the fact that the recording was made indoors while the crickets were outside.

The study has not been peer-reviewed yet, so it is far from a closed case. Moreover, the two scientists are stating that just the noises were made by crickets. They aren’t discounting the possibility that embassy personnel were also the victims of an attack or that their symptoms were psychosomatic.[6]

4A Contentious Sex Toy

Photo credit: The Guardian

There is more controversy from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The organizers have been accused of gender bias after banning a female sex toy even though sex technology aimed at men has been showcased in the past.

The Ose personal massager is a hands-free device which uses micro-robotic technology to mimic the sensations of a human...

Read More HERE

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