Facial recognition software, increasingly important to global anti-terrorism operations, is being brought to… cats. Taiwanese developer Mu-Chi Sung announced in July plans for marketing the software as part of a cat health device so that owners, especially those with multiple cats, can better monitor their cats’ eating habits. Sung first had to overcome the problem of how to get the cat to stick its head through a slot in the feeder so the software can start to work. The device, with mobile apps for remote monitoring by the owner, may sell for about $250.
GOVERNMENT IN ACTION
The Environmental Protection Agency is already a News of the Weird favorite (for example, the secret goofing-off “man cave” of one EPA contractor in July 2013 and, two months later, the fabulist EPA executive who skipped agency work for months by claiming falsely to be on secret CIA missions), but the agency’s Denver Regional Office took it to another level in June. In a leaked memo, the Denver deputy director implored employees to end the practice of leaving feces in the office’s hallway. The memo referred to “several” incidents.
SAVING FOOD STAMPS
The federal food stamp program, apparently uncontrollably rife with waste, has resorted to giving financial awards to the states that misspend food stamp money the least. In July, the Florida Department of Children and Families, beaming with pride, announced it had won a federal grant of $7 million for having blown only $47 million in food stamp benefits in 2013 (less than 1 percent of its $6 billion in payments). Vermont, the worst-performing state, misspends almost 10 percent of its food stamp benefits.
THE WAY THE WORLD WORKS
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration came down hard in July on West Virginia’s Freedom Industries for violations of chemical safety standards in January 2014 that resulted in the 10-day contamination of drinking water for 300,000 residents. OSHA issued two fines to the company–one for $7,000 and the other for $4,000.
Milo Moire, a Swiss performance artist, startled (and puzzled) fairgoers at Germany’s Art Cologne in April by creating a painting while standing on two ladders, nude and expelling “eggs,” filled with paint and ink, from her vagina. Each “PlopEgg” canvas made what she called a powerful feminist statement about women, fertility and creativity. In June, she attempted to tour Switzerland’s Art Basel fair “wearing” only the names of clothing items written on her nude body, e.g., on her leg, the word “pants.” Officials told her to go get dressed if she wanted to see the show.
Critics praised bad-girl British artist Tracey Emin’s 1998 furniture-and-effects exhibit, “My Bed,” supposedly representing a failed romantic relationship, featuring mussed sheets and, littering the room, empty vodka bottles and used condoms. Prominent collector Charles Saatchi turned heads when he bought the piece for the equivalent of about $200,000, and in June, almost 15 years later, he sold “My Bed” at auction for the equivalent of $4,330,000.
A GREAT FALL
In July, the large cement “Humpty Dumpty” at the Enchanted Forest in Salem, Oregon, created by Roger Tofte in 1970, was destroyed when two intruders tried to climb the wall Humpty was sitting on. However, the wall crumbled and Humpty suffered a great fall, and Tofte said he doubted he could put Humpty back together again, but would try instead to make a new one.
Sheriff’s deputies in Salina, Kansas, arrested Aaron Jansen, 29, but not before he put on quite a show on July 5. Jansen, speeding in a car spray-painted with derogatory comments about law enforcement, refused to pull over and even survived a series of tire-shredding road spikes as he turned into a soybean field, where he revved the engine and drove in circles for 40 minutes. As deputies set up a perimeter, Jansen futilely tossed items from the car (blankets, CDs, anything available) and then (with the car still moving) climbed out the driver’s door and briefly “surfed” on the roof. Finally, as deputies closed in, Jansen shouted a barrage of Bible verses before emerging from the car wearing a cowboy hat, boots and a woman’s dress.
BAD, BAD SAMARITANS
Roy Ortiz hired a lawyer in March and said he was considering suing the first responders who rescued him during the historic September 2013 flooding around Broomfield, Colorado–because they failed to find him fast enough when his car plunged into raging waters. And in March, Houston sheriff’s deputy Brady Pullen filed a lawsuit against the grieving family of the delusional man he was forced to shoot and kill during a 2012 emergency call–because Pullen had been injured in the skirmish and believes the family failed to warn him just how dangerous Kemal Yazar was. Also, in Alcona, Ontario, in April, Sharlene Simon, 42, filed a lawsuit against the family of the teenage bicyclist she accidentally ran down, fatally, in 2012–claiming that the boy’s dangerous joyriding at 1:30am initiated the events that left her traumatized.