As many as 50 exam monitors were forced to take cover at a high school in Zhongxiang, China, in June, fending off outraged students (and some parents) who hurled insults and stones at them after the monitors blocked cheating schemes on the all-important national “gaokao” exams. (It was “siege warfare,” and eventually “hundreds” of police responded, according to a dispatch in the Daily Telegraph of London.) Metal detectors had found secret transmitters and contraband cellphones used by groups beaming in exam answers from outside. Independent proctors had been assigned because of longstanding suspicions that the schools’ own proctors routinely enabled cheating (with results such as the 99 identical papers submitted in one subject on the previous year’s exam). Said one student (in the mob of about 2,000), noting how widespread cheating is nationally, “There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat.”
THINGS PEOPLE BELIEVE
Sheriffs and government deed-recorders in several states have reported annoying attempts recently by “Moorish American nationals” to confiscate temporarily vacant houses (often mansions), moving in without inhibition, changing the locks and partying joyously–based on made-up documents full of gobbledygook and stilted legalese granting them sovereignty beyond the reach of law-enforcement. There is a venerable Moorish Temple Science of America, but these trespassers in Florida, Maryland, Tennessee and other states are from fanciful offshoots that demand reparations (usually in gold) for Christopher- Columbus-era Europeans having stolen “their” land. A North Carolina police investigator told the Washington Post in March that “every state” is experiencing the “Moorish American” invasion.
CLICHE COME TO LIFE
Sheriff’s deputies arrested Shane Kersey, 35, in March as the one who made phone calls to four schools in New Orleans’s Westbank neighborhood, threatening to burn them down. When taken into custody, Kersey had aluminum foil wrapped around his skull and secured by a baseball cap but explained to an officer that he needed it “to prevent microwave signals from entering his head.”
Tim Blackburn, 50, fell off a ladder in Stockton-on-Tees, England, in 2007, and shattered his arm so badly that doctors had to remove four inches of bone and attach a metal scaffold around his arm that took six years to heal completely (and then only because of help from a cutting-edge ultrasound procedure). In May 2013–one day after he got a clean bill of health–Blackburn tripped over his dog and tumbled down the stairs in his home, and his arm “snapped like a twig,” he said.
Technology companies are making great strides in odor-detection robots, valuable in identifying subtle scents ranging from contaminants in beer brewing to cancerous tumors in the body. And then there is CrazyLabo in Fukuoka, Japan, which is marketing two personal-hygiene robots, available for special occasions such as parties, according to a May BBC News report. One detector, shaped as a woman’s kissable head, tests breath odor and responds (e.g., “smells like citrus”; “there’s an emergency taking place”). The other, resembling a dog, checks a person’s feet and can either cuddle up to the subject (no odor) or appear to pass out.
The local council in Brunete, Spain, near Madrid, has now seen a radical drop in unscooped dog droppings after employing volunteers to find the names of derelict dogs. They then matched the dog with the town’s dog registrations to obtain the owners’ addresses, then mailed them packages containing their dogs’ business (terming it “lost property”).
CREME DE LA WEIRD
Yasuomi Hirai, 26, was arrested in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, in June after being identified in news reports as the man who had crawled “dozens of meters” in an underground gutter solely to gain access to a particular sidewalk grate near Konan Women’s University in order to look up at skirt-wearers passing over the grate. After one pedestrian, noting the pair of eyes below, summoned a police officer, Hirai scurried down the gutter and escaped, but since he had been detained several months earlier on a similar complaint, police soon seized him, and indeed, he later admitted, “I have done this numerous times.”
The man who claimed the “world’s record” for traveling the farthest distance on a zip line attached only to his hair was killed in April as he similarly attempted to cross the Teesta River in West Bengal, India, on a zip line. He died of a heart attack, and since observers were unclear whether his limpness was part of the performance, he hung lifeless for 45 minutes. (He was identified in news reports as a “Guinness Book” record-holder, but as with many such claims, the Guinness Book has no such category.)