Horse show jumping is a longtime Olympics sport, but for the last 10 years, equestrians have been performing in “horseless” show jumping, in which horse courses are run by “riders” on foot (who, by the way, do not straddle broomsticks). According to an October report in The Wall Street Journal, an international association headed by retired pro equestrian Jessica Newman produces at least 15 shows a year, with between 40 to 130 competitors galloping over jumps that vary from two to four feet high (five feet in “Grand Prix” events), with the “riders” graded as if they were on horses (timed, with points off for contacting the rails). Explained Newman about the shows’ success: “It’s just fun to be a horse.”
Malaysia’s Education Ministry has held at least 10 seminars recently to teach parents and teachers how to head off the pesky homosexuality that their kids may be in “danger” of developing. According to officials, sure signs are when boys wear “V-neck” or sleeveless shirts or carry big handbags. For girls, the most obvious sign is “having no affection for boys.” Last year, according to a September Reuters report, the government set up camps specifically to teach “masculine behavior” to “effeminate” boys.
THIS WEEK IN DUCK FETUSES
Championship eaters gobble down hot dogs on New York’s Coney Island, but in August, when a Filipino restaurant in Brooklyn wanted a more ethnic contest, it offered plates of “baluts”–the Philippine delicacy of duck fetuses. Wayne Algenio won, stuffing 18 down his throat in five minutes. Typically, the baluts have barely begun to develop, sometimes allowing a “lucky” diner to sense in his mouth the crackle of a beak or the tickle of a feather.
Surviving a cobra bite in Nepal is simple, some natives believe. If the victim bites the snake right back, to its death, the venom is rendered harmless. One confident farmer bitten in August in Biratnagar told BBC News that he went about his business normally after fatally biting his attacker and survived only after his family convinced him that perhaps the custom was ridiculous and hauled him to a hospital.
WHALE DISCHARGES IN THE NEWS
In August, schoolboy Charlie Naysmith of Christchurch, England, taking a nature walk near Hengistbury Head beach, came upon a rocklike substance that turned out to be petrified whale vomit–which, to his surprise, proved worth the equivalent of from $16,000 to $64,000. “Ambergris,” a waxy buildup from the intestines of a sperm whale, produces a foul odor but is valuable commercially for prolonging the scent of a perfume. (Actually, after floating in the sun, on salt water, for decades, the ambergris on the beach was smooth and sweet-smelling.)