Officials in charge of a Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal heritage site recently installed “speed bumps,” similar to those familiar to Americans driving residential streets–but on a pedestrian walkway, with row upon row of risers to resemble a washboard. A Western travel writer, along with editors of People’s Daily China, suggested that officials were irked that “disorderly” tourists had been walking past the ancient grounds too rapidly to appreciate its beauty or context.
THE JOB OF THE RESEARCHER
“Marine mammologist” Dara Orbach’s specialty is figuring out how bottlenose dolphins actually fit their sex organs together to copulate. When dolphins die of natural causes, Orbach, a post-doctoral fellow at Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie University, is sent their genitals (and also those of whales, porpoises and sea lions) and fills each one with silicone to work from molds in understanding the sex act’s mechanics. Dolphins’ vaginas are “surprising” in their “complexity,” she told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News in April, for example, with the ability to twist inner folds to divert the progress of any sperm deposited by undesirable mates.
Compared to busy coastal metropolises, Indiana may evoke repose, and entrepreneur Tom Battista is suggesting the state’s largest city capitalize on the sentiment by reserving a destination site on a low-lying hill overlooking the chaotic merge lanes of two interstate highways–affording visitors leisurely moments watching the frantic motorists scrambling below. He plans three rows of seats and a sunshade for the relaxed gawkers to take in the “ocean”-like roar and imagine overwrought drivers’ rising blood pressure (while their own remains soothingly calm).
WHEN YOU’RE POOR, SAFETY’S OUT
Several treatments are available to combat the heart arrhythmia “atrial fibrillation,” but all require medical supervision, which John Griffin, 69, said he tried to acquire at the emergency room at New Zealand’s Waikato Hospital in April, only to be met with delay and frustration. Griffin went home that day, took notice of his neighbor’s 8,000-volt electric security fence and, with boots off, in a fit of do-it-yourself desperation, nudged it with his arm. He got quite a jolt, he said, but he walked away, and his heart returned to natural rhythm. The medical director of the Heart Foundation of New Zealand said that Griffin was lucky and sternly warned against the “procedure.”
Medical researchers have been frustrated for years at failures in getting certain cancer-fighting drugs to reach targeted areas in women’s reproductive tracts, but doctors in Germany announced in April a bold technique that appeared to work: sending the drugs via sperm cells, which seem to roam without obstruction as they search for an egg. The process involves coating active sperm cells with an iron adhesive and magnetically steering them to their internal targets.
NEWS THAT SOUNDS LIKE A JOKE
Sean Clemens, now awaiting trial in Liberty, Ohio, in the death of an 84-year-old woman, allegedly confessed his guilt to a co-worker after telling the man that something was bothering him that he needed to tell someone about–but only if the co-worker would “pinkie-swear” not to tell anyone else. (The co-worker broke the code.)
‘NEW STANDARD OF CARE’
In the course of pursuing claims against Alaskan dentist Seth Lookhart for Medicaid fraud, government investigators found a video on his phone of him extracting a sedated patient’s tooth–while riding on a hoverboard. (He had apparently sent the video to his office manager under the title “New Standard of Care.”) Lookhart had been indicted in 2016 for billing Medicaid $1.8 million for patient sedations unnecessary for the procedures they received.
In April, Tennessee state representative Mike Stewart, aiming to make a point about the state’s lax gun-sales laws and piggybacking onto the cuddly feeling people have about children’s curbside lemonade stands, set up a combination stand on Nashville’s Capitol Hill, offering for sale lemonade, cookies–and an AK-47 assault rifle (with a sign reading “No Background Check,” to distinguish the private-sale AK-47 from one purchased from a federally licensed dealer). (In fact, some states still regulate lemonade stands more than gun sales–by nettlesome “health department” and anti-competitive rules and licensing, though Tennessee allows the stands in most neighborhoods as long as they are small and operated infrequently.)
PEOPLE DIFFERENT FROM US
In March, an electrician on a service call at a public restroom in Usuki, Japan, discovered a crawlspace above the urinal area, which had apparently been a man’s home (with a space heater, gas stove and clothing). Investigators learned that Takashi Yamanouchi, 54, a homeless wanderer, had been living there continuously for three years–and had arranged everything very tidily, including the 300-plus plastic two-liter bottles of his urine. (It was unclear why he was storing his urine when he resided above a public restroom.)