8 Strange Things Cities Decided to Ban

If you want to have a pet goldfish, park in your own driveway, or die, here are some places you probably shouldn't live.

1. Winnie the Pooh

The beloved, honey-craving bear was suggested to be the symbol of a children's playground in Poland, but the Tuszyn city council struck the idea down with a vengeance. "The problem with that bear is it doesn't have a complete wardrobe," a council member said. "It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children." It got uglier. Winnie was called a "hermaphrodite," and another council member argued, "This is very disturbing but can you imagine! The author was over 60 and cut [Winnie the Pooh's] testicles off with a razor blade because he had a problem with his identity.”

2. Satan

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If the Son of Perdition is looking to vacation in Florida, it looks like he'll have to skip the town of Inglis. In 2001, the town of 1400 residents banned Satan by official decree, thanks to a proclamation written by Mayor Carolyn Risher. One of the five official copies hangs on Risher's wall next to a poster of Elvis and a print of The Last Supper. The other four were rolled up and sealed into wooden posts marked "Repent, Request and Resist," which were then staked into the ground near the town's four entrances. If you're wondering, the decree reads in full:

Be it known from this day forward that Satan, ruler of darkness, giver of evil, destroyer of what is good and just, is not now, nor ever again will be, a part of this town of Inglis. Satan is hereby declared powerless, no longer ruling over, nor influencing, our citizens.

3. Dying

Bad news, residents of Falciano del Massico, Italy: There's no more room in the cemetery, so you'll need to find someplace else to pass away. To solve the city's post-mortem overcrowding situation, Mayor Giulio Cesare Fava issued the following ordinance in March 2012: "It is forbidden, with immediate effect, to all citizens resident in the municipality of Falciano del Massico, and to whoever passes by its territory, to cross the border of earthly life and to enter the afterlife." At least two elderly residents have already defied the order.

4. Slapping people with a dead eel

Residents of Lyme Regis, Dorset, are no longer lawfully permitted to slap each other with a 5-foot-long conger eel. It's officially known as 'conger-cuddling' or 'doing the conger', and the game—which involves knocking opponents off of a platform by swinging the dead fish at them—was both wildly popular in the community and a source of funding for a local lifeboat charity for 32 years. Despite its long history and general appeal, 'doing the conger' was banned in 2006 after an animal rights group complained that the game was disrespectful to dead animals.

5. Gossip

Bad-mouthing your neighbors is serious business in Icononzo, Colombia. In 2005, Mayor Ignacio Jimenez argued that waggling tongues could be the difference between life and death for residents of the city, thanks to ongoing warfare between Marxist rebels and far-right paramilitary outlaws. At the time, at least 8 prisoners in the local jailhouse were there "purely by gossip" after other residents speculated that they might be members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. In order to impress upon his constituents the need for thoughtful discourse and reason in the justice system, Jimenez outlawed gossip entirely. Aside from potentially costing another person his or her life, the punishment for gossip now includes hefty fines and as many as four years in jail.

6. Goldfish in bowls

Monza, Italy, is home to the country's Formula 1 Grand Prix and what is probably the most empathetic animal rights legislation on the planet. In 2004, the city announced that it would henceforth be illegal to house goldfish in goldfish bowls because "a fish kept in a bowl has a distorted view of reality...and suffers because of this. Also, this type of receptacle generally doesn't have a filter and doesn't allow for good oxygenation." Additionally, small animals given as prizes and dyed Easter chicks were banned in the same measure.

7. Spitting

In 2009, fears of a swine flu epidemic gripped the world. In a bid to halt the spread of the virus in Coulaines, France, mayor Christophe Rouillon outlawed spitting—and not just in public. Rouillon specifically indicated that footballers should take the lead by ceasing any sideline expectoration activity immediately, and suggested that spitting on the field should be treated as foul play: "One spitting incident should be punished with a yellow card, and repeat offenders should be shown a red card."

8. Parking in your own driveway

If you prefer driving a pickup truck to a sedan, you might reconsider moving to Coral Gables, Florida, where parking a truck in your own driveway could land you a $100-per-day fine... if you're a first-time offender. After that, it's up to $500 each day. The ban has been in place since 2003, and many people believe it's a (successful) bid to keep blue-collar families out of a ritzy neighborhood. A resident contested the ban and the city spent $250,000 in taxpayer funds defending it all the way to the Florida Supreme Court, where they won.

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These Sparrows Have Been Singing the Same Songs for 1500 Years
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iStock

Swamp sparrows are creatures of habit—so much so that they’ve been chirping out the same few tunes for more than 1500 years, Science magazine reports.

These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, resulted from an analysis of the songs of 615 adult male swamp sparrows found in six different areas of the northeastern U.S. Researchers learned that young swamp sparrows pick up these songs from the adults around them and are able to mimic the notes with astounding accuracy.

Here’s what one of their songs sounds like:

“We were able to show that swamp sparrows very rarely make mistakes when they learn their songs, and they don't just learn songs at random; they pick up commoner songs rather than rarer songs,” Robert Lachlan, a biologist at London’s Queen Mary University and the study’s lead author, tells National Geographic.

Put differently, the birds don’t mimic every song their elders crank out. Instead, they memorize the ones they hear most often, and scientists say this form of “conformist bias” was previously thought to be a uniquely human behavior.

Using acoustic analysis software, researchers broke down each individual note of the sparrows’ songs—160 different syllables in total—and discovered that only 2 percent of sparrows deviated from the norm. They then used a statistical method to determine how the songs would have evolved over time. With recordings from 2009 and the 1970s, they were able to estimate that the oldest swamp sparrow songs date back 1537 years on average.

The swamp sparrow’s dedication to accuracy sets the species apart from other songbirds, according to researchers. “Among songbirds, it is clear that some species of birds learn precisely, such as swamp sparrows, while others rarely learn all parts of a demonstrator’s song precisely,” they write.

According to the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, swamp sparrows are similar to other sparrows, like the Lincoln’s sparrow, song sparrow, and chipping sparrow. They’re frequently found in marshes throughout the Northeast and Midwest, as well as much of Canada. They’re known for their piercing call notes and may respond to birders who make loud squeaking sounds in their habitat.

[h/t Science magazine]

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18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
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iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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