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

Saturday, January 19, 2019

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

With another week in the history books, it is time to check the headlines. Morris’s list covers all the crucial stuff going on in the world, while we focus more on the strange and wacky here.

We step into the world of music this week with tales about feuding neighbors, an unusual art installation, and a prime minister’s doppelganger. Also, spiders are floating in the sky in Brazil. And it should be noted that the Devil made an appearance in Spain.

10Bless The Rains

If you ever find yourself wandering the Namib Desert, and you start hearing “Africa” by Toto, don’t worry. You haven’t gone insane yet. You just stumbled upon a new art installation.Namibian artist Max Siedentopf has set up a sound system that will play the iconic song on a loop forever. It consists of an MP3 player and six speakers placed on white pillars and connected to solar batteries. 

The location of the installation is a secret, but it is somewhere within the 81,000 square kilometers (31,000 sq mi) of the Namib Desert.Siedentopf says he wanted to pay the song the “ultimate homage” by having “Africa” playing in Africa for all eternity.[1] However, he remains realistic about the chances of his art exhibit surviving the sands of time. While most parts were chosen to be as durable as possible, he realizes that the harsh desert will eventually “devour” his artwork.

9Neighbors From Hell

Photo credit: Dmitry Sadovnikov, Avda

We are staying in the world of music and looking at a neighbor feud between Robbie Williams and Jimmy Page.Williams lives in London’s Holland Park district in a Grade II-listed building. The former Led Zeppelin guitarist lives next to him in a Grade I-listed building. That means that both structures have been designated as heritage assets, and therefore, any kind of alterations or demolitions require a whole lot of paperwork. The source of the feud between the two musicians seems to be Williams’s desire to extend his basement and add a gym and a pool. Page doesn’t want to cooperate out of fear that construction works might damage his 1875 mansion. Williams submitted the original plans five years ago, and it wasn’t until last month that he finally received conditional approval.

The two have filed complaints against each other with the local council, but it seems Williams prefers alternative modes of revenge. According to a letter to the council from another neighbor simply named “Johnny,” the former Take That singer likes to play music at loud volumes to upset Page. He chooses rivals of Led Zeppelin such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Pink Floyd.[2] He even dresses up on occasion as Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant. A representative for Robbie Williams denies this, calling it a “complete fabrication.”

8The Duck Pic Challenge

Over the past few weeks, museums across the world have engaged in a Twitter battle to show off their top duck pics.It all started innocently enough on January 4, when the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) in Reading, Berkshire, England, tweeted a photo of a duckling from 1934. It then sent a message to the British Museum asking it to show its “best ducks.” Not to be outdone, the museum posted a photo of a 3,300-year-old ancient Egyptian cosmetics container in the shape of a duck.This could have been the end of it, but other institutions wanted in on the action. The Natural History Museum in London, the Norfolk Museum, the Royal Academy, the British Library, and even the Science Museum tweeted their own ducks.[3]

After a day or two, the challenge went international. The Getty Museum in California, the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, the Met in New York, and the Spadina Museum in Toronto all shared the best ducks they had in their collections. Some tweeted photographs, others sculptures, or paintings. The National Railway Museum showed off its Mallard steam locomotive, while the National Army Museum in London presented a 1943 DUKW amphibious vehicle.Even this week, some museums which were late to the party were still tweeting their fowl contributions. Already, MERL has set a date for the second-ever International Solicited Duck Pic Day on January 5, 2020.

7Spiders In The Sky

Many places around the world have been hit by severe weather. No matter how bad it gets where you are, though, at least you can take solace in the fact that it is not raining spiders.The same thing can’t be said for Southern Brazil. Residents from the state of Minas Gerais have reported hundreds of spiders filling their skies. Their webs are incredibly fine and almost impossible to detect by the human eye, so it looks like the arachnids are just floating in midair. One species called Parawixia bistriata is to blame for this unsettling behavior. 

These spiders are more social than your typical arachnid and band together in hot, humid weather to build large webs and catch more prey. They come out in the early evening and stay overnight. At dawn, they feast on whatever they caught and then go back into the vegetation again.[4]Although people are understandably freaked out by this phenomenon, arachnology expert Professor Adalberto dos Santos from the Federal University of Minas Gerais stresses that the spiders do more good than harm—they regulate insect and mosquito populations, and their bite is not harmful to humans. Still, that’s unlikely to comfort the unlucky people who will walk into one of these webs.

6The Devil Takes Selfies

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