Two Brazilian firms collaborated recently to test a whimsical device that could perhaps lessen splashing on men’s room floors: a urinal containing a fretboard that makes musical sounds as liquid hits it (if the stream is strong enough). According to a May report in the Brazilian edition of Billboard magazine, versions were set up in several Sao Paulo bars to see if men’s aims improved. (Flushing produces an online address from which a sound recording of the user’s “music” can be retrieved.) And in a project that has already gone live in 200 Michigan bars and restaurants, the state’s Office of Highway Safety Planning has installed “talking” urinal cakes featuring a female announcer urging inebriated patrons to call a taxi.
From time to time, Buddhist groups attempt to improve their “karmic balance” by doing good deeds for Earth’s animal cohabitants. (Previously, “News of the Weird” mentioned a California group’s “freeing” fish by buying out a pet shop’s inventory and liberating the “lucky” fish into the Pacific Ocean–where they were undoubtedly eaten almost immediately by larger fish.) In June, about 50 members of the Let Blessings and Wisdom Grow Buddhist group in Beijing bought at least 200 snakes, took them into a rural area of Hebei province, and, chanting, released them. Almost immediately, the snakes infested the nearby village of Miao Erdong, horrifying the villagers, who were able to club to death some of the snakes, but who remained on edge.
THE FIRST RULE OF FIGHT CHURCH IS…
Prominent filmmakers Daniel Junge (an Academy Award winner) and Bryan Storkel have been raising money for their documentary Fight Church, featuring devout Christian mixed martial artists viciously pummeling each other–but only after the brawlers begin the match with a prayer and commitment to serve Jesus Christ. Among those featured is Pastor Paul Burress of Rochester, N.Y., who says he “loves to fight” and sees no problem with MMA’s barbaric nature. “These [techniques of fighting savage] are the gifts and the skills God has given me.”
Scottish officials were reportedly optimistic about a recent decision of the legislature of Louisiana to broaden a voucher program, allowing parents to choose private schools with Christian fundamentalist curricula. One prominent textbook for that curriculum (offered by the Accelerated Christian Education program) touted sightings of Scotland’s Loch Ness monster as “evidence” that humans and dinosaurs walked the Earth at the same time, thus undermining the widely accepted scientific theory of evolution. Officials now anticipate an influx of tourists to Loch Ness, near Inverness.
Television ads appeared recently in India exploiting women’s obsession with lightening their skin–a fascination already responsible for a rich market in facial bleaching. Now, ads for “Clean and Dry Intimate Wash” promise to “refresh” a woman’s private parts by making them fairer. Female columnist Amrit Dhillon, viewing an ad of a disinterested husband ignoring his too-brown wife, denounced the product as catering to “self-hatred–of race and gender” and urged the banning of the ads.
Adriana Villareal of Dos de Mayo, Argentina, lost her husband two years ago but now makes it a point to visit his tomb about four times a year, and not just briefly. Villareal brings bedding, an Internet connection and a small stove so that she can remain three or four days at each visit. Said Villareal, according to a June Agence France-Presse dispatch, “When you love someone, you do all sorts of things.”
The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling in June in which Marshall Hollins was sentenced to eight years in prison for taking cellphone photographs of a 17-year-old girl with whom he was having sex. That sex was voluntary and, since Illinois’ age of consent is 16, legal. But the court ruled that it’s still illegal in Illinois to take sexual pictures of a child, and that particular law defines underage as under 18. (Hollins had claimed, unsuccessfully, that he surely ought to be able to take pictures of a legal event.)
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS
On June 8, sheriff’s deputies near Tampa, Fla., charged Robert Suggs, 36, and David Hall, 28, with taking a front-end loader and a dump truck from a construction site and using them to steal an ATM from a Bank of America drive-thru. The theft took place at 5 am and deputies arrested the pair that afternoon when they were found near the bank, still trying to get the ATM open. But on the same day, in Albuquerque, Thomas Molina, 38, was arrested in the act of fleeing a burglary at Central New Mexico Community College. As he tried to climb out a window, his getaway was hampered by having gotten his foot caught in the blinds.