The Hastens workshop in Koping, Sweden, liberally using the phrase “master artisans” recently, unveiled its made-to-order $149,900 mattress. Bloomberg News reported in December on Hastens’ use of superior construction materials such as pure steel springs, “slow-growing” pine, multiple layers of flax, horsehair lining (braided by hand, then unwound to ensure extra spring), and cotton covered by flame-retardant wool batting. With a 25-year guarantee, an eight-hour-a-day sleep habit works out to $2 an hour. (Bonus: The Bloomberg reviewer, after a trial run, gave the “Vividus” a glowing thumbs-up.)
THE JOB OF THE RESEARCHER
Humans are good at recognizing faces, but exceptionally poor at recognition when the same face’s features are scrambled or upside down. In December, a research team from the Netherlands and Japan published findings that chimpanzees are the same way–when it comes to recognizing other chimps’ butts. That suggests, the scientists concluded, that sophisticated recognition of rear ends is as important for chimps (as “socio-sexual signaling,” such as prevention of inbreeding) as faces are to humans.
Humanity has accumulated an estimated 30 trillion tons of “stuff,” according to research by University of Leicester geologists–enough to fit over 100 pounds’ worth over every square meter of the planet’s surface. The scientists, writing in the Anthropocene Review, are even more alarmed that very little of it is ever recycled and that buried layers of technofossils that define our era will clutter and weigh down the planet, hampering future generations. (Don’t just think of “garage sale” stuff, wrote Mother Nature News; think of every single thing we produce.)
FINER POINTS OF THE LAW
A federal appeals court agreed with a jury in December that Battle Creek, Michigan, police were justified in shooting (and killing) two hardly misbehaving family dogs during a legal search of a house’s basement. Mark and Cheryl Brown had pointed out that their dogs never attacked; one, an officer admitted, was “just standing there” when shot and killed. The officers said that conducting a thorough search of the premises might have riled the dogs and threatened their safety. (Unaddressed was whether a dog might avoid being shot if it masters the classic trick of “playing dead.”)
IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING
Hamden (Connecticut) High School was put into lockdown for an hour on Dec. 15 when a student was seen running in the hallway, zig-zagging from side to side, swinging an arm and leaping into the air. Police were called, but quickly learned that it was just a 12th-grade boy practicing a basketball move and pretending to dunk.
The Immigrants Wanted to Believe: For about 10 years, organized crime rings operated a makeshift U.S. “embassy” in a rundown pink building in Accra, the capital of Ghana, issuing official-looking identification papers, including “visas” that theoretically permitted entry into the United States. The U.S. State Department finally persuaded Ghanian officials to close it down, but it is unknown if any purchasers were ever caught trying to immigrate. The “embassy,” with a U.S. flag outside, had well-spoken “consular officers” who reportedly collected about $6,000 per visa.
WEIRD OLD WORLD
Wu Jianping, 25, from China’s Henan province, complained in November that he had been denied home loans at several banks for not providing fingerprints–because he has no arms (following a childhood accident) and “signs” documents by holding a pen in his mouth. He was not allowed to substitute “toeprints.” And classes were canceled in early December in the village of Batagai in the Yakutia region of Siberia when the temperature reached minus 53 Celsius (minus 63 Fahrenheit)–but only for kids 15 and under; older children still had to get to school. Yakutia is regarded as the coldest inhabited region on the planet.
SEX TOYS IN THE NEWS
The government in Saxony, Germany, chose as third-place winner of its 2016 prize for innovation and startup companies the inventor of the ingenious silent vibrator (leading to shaming of the economy minister Martin Dulig, now known as “Dildo Dulig”). And an unknown armed robber made off with cash at the Lotions and Lace adult store in San Bernardino, California, in December–although employees told police they angrily pelted the man with dildos from the shelves as he ran out the door.
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS
Leonard Rinaldi, 53, was arrested in Torrington, Connecticut, in November following his theft of a rare-coin collection belonging to his father. The coins were valued at about $8,000, but apparently to make his theft less easily discoverable, he ran them through a Coinstar coin-cashing machine–netting himself a cool $60. And James Walsh was arrested in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Dec. 12 at a Wal-Mart after carting out an unpaid-for big-screen TV. Walsh said he had swiped a TV on Dec. 11 with no problem–but failed to notice that, on the 12th, the store had a “shop with a cop” event at which St. Lucie County deputies were buying toys for kids.