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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

News Quirks

Roland Sweet
Published Thursday December 11, 04:56 pm
Artificial mucous helped students measure whale stress

Photo Credit: Illustration by Myron Campbell

Student researchers from Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, have figured out a better way to measure stress in whales than chasing them with motorboats and 15-foot poles equipped with sensors. They dispatch a drone to hover directly over the animal’s blowhole and collect mucus samples from the spray. The researchers tested the method by attaching a sterilized surgical sponge to the drone to harvest pseudo-snot ejected from a fake whale: a catamaran fitted with sensors that measured what a real whale would feel and hear while being followed by the drone. Students dubbed the drone Snot Bot. (The Boston Globe)


Forgot To Remember

Twenty-year military veteran Debbi Ferguson was escorting the body of Private Steven Allen in Victoria, BC, on Remembrance Day when a police officer pulled her out of the funeral procession because, the officer informed her, her licence plate was obstructed. Ferguson said she explained about the funeral procession, but he told her he didn’t care and issued her a ticket for $230. After Ferguson complained to Victoria Police, an official called its officer’s action “regrettable.” (CBC)


So Long, And Thanks For All The Kimchi

South Koreans are headed for extinction by the year 2750, according to a parliamentary study commissioned by the New Politics Alliance for Democracy party. Its forecasts are based on South Korea’s critically low birth rate of 1.19 children per woman, attributed to 1980s government campaigns to restrict family size. The study suggests the southern port city of Busan, which has one of the country’s most rapidly aging populations, will be the first to empty after its last resident is born in 2413. (Britain’s The Independent)


Not Your Father’s KKK

The Ku Klux Klan is campaigning to boost membership by recruiting Jews, African Americans, gays and Hispanics. “White supremacy is the old Klan,” Klan organizer John Abarr insisted. “This is the new Klan.” Abarr says his Rocky Mountain Knights KKK group will fight against the so-called new world order, the supposed plan of shadowy international elites to create a world government. Despite Abarr’s rebranding, applicants to join the 5,000 to 8,000 member Klan will still have to wear the traditional white robes, masks and conical hats. (International Business Times)


Rolling Thunder

Venice is banning tourists from using roller suitcases, which officials say keep residents awake by making too much noise as they’re wheeled across the city’s historic bridges. To avoid the €500 fine, visitors will need suitcases with inflatable tires, although city official Maurizio Dorigo admitted those don’t yet exist. He expressed hope that a company will design and sell them by next May, when the ban takes effect. (Britain’s The Express)


Guns Make Us Safer

A 45-year-old man died after shooting himself in the head and neck while hunting geese, according to police in West Windsor, New Jersey. “Although incredibly tragic, it is believed that the incident was solely an accident,” Lt. Matthew Kemp said. (Times of Trenton)


Gun Safety 2: Electric Boogaloo

Police said Dennis Eugene Emery, 57, accidentally shot himself in the face at his home in Pinellas Park, Florida. According to the report, Emery was arguing with his wife when he got a gun and threatened to shoot one of the family dogs. He pulled back the gun’s hammer as if he were going to fire. He then started to release it to a safe position while pointing the gun at his face, at which point the gun discharged. (The St. Petersburg Tribune)


Gun Hard With A Vengeance

Becca Campbell, 26, died after she accidentally shot herself in the head with a gun she bought for protection in anticipation of violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, while a grand jury decided whether to indict Michael Brown’s killer. The St. Louis woman’s 33-year-old boyfriend told police Campbell was jokingly waving the weapon around in his car, saying she was ready for Ferguson, when she pointed it at him. He swerved, trying to duck, and rear-ended another car, causing the gun to fire. (CNN)


Gun Trek 4: The Voyage Home

Police arrested Ashtoni Kidd for having a gun in a baby stroller in Jackson, Tennessee. Investigators, who found a bullet hole in the stroller, said Kidd told them she was holding the one-year-old infant when the gun went off while she rearranged items in the buggy. (Jackson’s WBBJ-TV)


Stink of the Week

London’s Heathrow Airport installed a Scent Globe to give travelers “an exclusive preview of destinations” awaiting them, said Normand Boivin, the airport’s chief operating officer. The globe, located in Terminal 2, features complex odour infusions created by Design in Scent representing Brazil (“embraces the scents of its rich rainforest fauna with a palette of coffee, tobacco and jasmine”), China (“mystical temple incense and subtle Osmanthus Fragrans flower”), Japan (“cool, oceanic tones with a mix of seaweed and shell extracts, green tea and Ambergris, capturing the essence of small coastal villages”) and South Africa (“captures the adventure of safari with notes of tribal incense, wild grass and musky animalics through the scent of Hyraceum”). (CNN)


Lesson Unlearned

After efforts to reduce America’s oil consumption boosted sales of fuel-efficient vehicles, plummeting gas prices since summer have sparked renewed consumer interest in gas-guzzling pickups, SUVs and crossovers. Their share of the market was 53.5 per cent in September and 53.6 per cent in October, the best two-month stretch since 2005. The fastest-growing used vehicle demand, according to, is for Hummers. (The Washington Post)

Compiled from mainstream news sources by Roland Sweet

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