90 Miles From Tyranny : 10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (8/24/19)

Saturday, August 24, 2019

10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (8/24/19)

Another week has passed, which means that it is time, once again, to look at some of the bizarre stories that made the headlines recently. If you want to read up on the last offbeat list, click here.This week, we have a tale from Japan and a tail from Japan. There is a grand cheese heist in Canada, a creepy statue in New Zealand, and a nasty crocodile in a Swedish aquarium. A German town challenges us to prove it doesn’t exist, and a scorned English husband takes revenge with a giant heap of manure.

10A Smear Campaign

Photo credit: Solent News & Photo Agency
In an apparent act of revenge, an unidentified person dumped a giant pile of manure outside a country inn in Hampshire, England, alongside a sign accusing the pub landlord of sleeping with his spouse.One morning, Simon Emberley, the landlord and chef at the Hawkley Inn, came into work to find a foul-smelling pile of horse dung blocking the entrance to his establishment. The mound was so big that it blocked up traffic in the village, as drivers had to go around it.Stuck on top of the heap was a sign which said “The landlord is f—ing my wife.”[1] Unsurprisingly, Emberley called the allegations “unfounded and untrue” and claimed that they were a part of a smear campaign against him.Both he and his wife insist that they have no idea who is behind it, although police are conducting their investigation to find out. Village rumors attribute the deed to a local farmer. Meanwhile, the Emberleys tried to make light of the situation by posting a sign offering the horse manure for free, courtesy of a “generous supplier.” No one took them on their offer, though, and workmen came in and cleaned the heap.

9Village Of The Apes

Photo credit: Yasushi Sato
Farmers from the Japanese village of Kiso in Nagano Prefecture have formed a “monkey militia” to deal with the primate pests that keep raiding their crops.Located in the Kaida Highlands at the foot of Mount Ontake, Kiso has an ideal climate for farming. Crops thrive, especially sweet corn, but this also makes them a particularly attractive target for monkeys.In the past, people have tried scaring off the monkeys with shouts and bottle rockets, but these proved ineffective. Now, a group of roughly 30 farmers and other workers have formed the “monkey chaser” squad and will be more proactive in fighting off the simian invasion.The town spent 850,000 yen ($80,000) on 30 air guns and a supply of pellets.[2] Earlier this month, the “monkey fighters” underwent training in order to learn how to use their new weapons. From now on, they will patrol their crops regularly. Should they spot monkeys munching on their corn, they will alert the rest via group-messaging app. The entire squad will gather and fire warning shots to scare off the animals.The mayor of Kiso gave the men matching hats and certificates that attest that they are allowed only to fire into the air, not directly at the monkeys.

8The Hand Of The Artist

Photo credit: Dezeen
The people of Wellington have a new nightmarish sight to enjoy for the next few years: A giant sculpture called Quasi was mounted via helicopter on top of the Wellington City Gallery.The 5-meter (16 ft) statue depicts a large, anthropomorphic hand which bears the face of its creator, Melbourne-based artist Ronnie van Hout. According to the gallery’s description, Quasi is “as if ‘the hand of the artist’ has developed a monstrous life of its own.”[3]Van Hout made the sculpture in 2011 for his hometown of Christchurch following the 2011 earthquake. Now, it has been placed in the Civic Square in the New Zealand capital in an attempt to liven up another area damaged by an earthquake back in 2016.Residents are divided over the sculpture, to say the least, with most finding it very disturbing. Quasi enjoyed a similar reception back in Christchurch, but the people of Wellington better get used to it. The statue is scheduled to stay there for the next three years.

7The Mystery Of Skeleton Lake

Photo credit: Schwiki
A new study published in Nature Communications deepens the mystery of Skeleton Lake in India by dismissing most of the hypotheses proposed for its existence.Nestled up in the Himalayas, kilometers above sea level, is a usually frozen glacial lake called Roopkund. It is more commonly known as Skeleton Lake because bones from numerous persons have been recovered from the site, with researchers speculating that as many as 500 people could be buried there.Remains were first found during World War II, and since then, scientists have offered numerous ideas regarding the origins of the bones. Most of them assumed that they were all an unfortunate group of people who died at once. Some said they were invading Japanese soldiers, a returning Indian army unit, or even a king and his revelers who were passing through.The good thing about Roopkund is that the cold weather preserved DNA within the bones. This new study presents the analysis of the remains of 37 individuals recovered at the site. But they are of different ages and different ancestries, immediately discounting the possibility that all of the people died in a single event.About a third of the deceased were of Mediterranean heritage. Moreover, while it’s true that the majority of the remains are 1,000 years old, some are as recent as the early 1800s.[4]Researchers are still divided over the fundamental question: How did all these bodies end up in Roopkund? Some argue that it was a planned effort and that the lake functioned as a graveyard for the locals, while others opine that it was landslides, not humans, that brought the skeletons to a single place.

6Tails For The Elderly

Old people should have tails. At least, that is according to researchers at Tokyo’s Keio University. They have been working on a robotic tail which mimics the movements of real ones and can help elders maintain their balance.Researcher Junichi Nabeshima says that the gray, 1-meter (3.3 ft) appendage is attached to the waist with a harness and acts like a pendulum. Therefore, when the human body tilts in one direction, the tail moves in the opposite one. It does this with the help of four artificial muscles and a supply of compressed air which allow it to move in eight directions.[5]Scientists believe their robotic tail can be really useful for elderly people but are also looking into other people who could use a bit more balance, such as warehouse workers who carry heavy loads.

5Flight Of The Mattresses

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