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The Weird Week in Review

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Iowa Teen Abandoned in Nebraska

A new law in Nebraska states that any child can be relinquished by anyone at a hospital without incurring abandonment charges. The broadly-worded law was meant to protect children from parents who could not care for them. A couple in Council Bluffs, Iowa took advantage of the law by driving their granddaughter over the state line and leaving her at a Omaha hospital. The 14-year-old girl was the first child relinquished from out of state. The girl was returned to her family in Iowa after the grandparents changed their minds. Since the law was passed, 17 children have been relinquished at hospitals in Nebraska, including a group of nine siblings and one 15-year-old boy.

Woman Spends £10,000 So Cat Can Meow

Jean Kelly of Olney, Buckinghamshire, England noticed her cat Cadbury was quiet -too quiet. She took him to the vet and found he had a paralyzed larynx, a rare condition preventing him from meowing. Two surgeries were required to correct this condition. He also spent six days on oxygen and four months in nursing care, for a total cost of £10,000. Kelly's pet health insurance covered £6,000 of the cost, leaving her to pay the other £4,000. Kelly, who postponed a vacation in Africa to pay for Cadbury's bills, said it was worth it to hear her 13-year-old cat meow again.

1847 Law Keeps Cabbies from Bathroom

Cab driver David Finnegan was confronted by a council officer in Darlington, England when he parked his cab to use a public restroom nine feet away. The officer cited an 1847 law that says,

"If the driver of any hackney carriage leave it in any street or at any place of public resort or entertainment, whether it be hired or not, without some one proper to take care of it, any constable may drive away such hackney carriage and deposit it."

Finnegan, who has driven a cab for twenty years, objected to the law, saying it would prevent him from ever leaving his cab for any reason. As the regulation was intended for horse-and-carriage drivers, the Darlington Council said they would dispose of the matter informally.

National Debt Clock Runs Out of Digits

150debtclock.jpgThe National Debt Clock has been keeping track of the US debt in Times Square since 1989. When Seymour Durst installed the clock, the national debt was 2.7 trillion. Last month, the digital dollar sign was removed in anticipation of the debt passing the 10 trillion dollar mark. Now the place where the dollar sign was accommodates the new digit. A new clock will be erected early next year, with space for a debt of a quadrillions dollars. The current national debt is 10.2 trillion dollars, which may go to 11 trillion due to the financial bailout package.

Swimming the Palace Moat Naked

Japan's Emperor and Empress live in a palace in Tokyo surrounded by 12 moats. On Tuesday, a man who later identified himself as a British tourist jumped into the moat naked and led police on a chase that lasted an hour and a half. At one point, he left the water to chase police with a pole and throw rocks at them. He also scaled the 8 meter palace wall before returning to the water. The man was finally arrested and later released.

Couple Saw Home in Half

150halfhome.jpgA couple in Cambodia have separated from each other by cutting their home in half! After being married for almost 40 years, the two decided to live apart, and thought this would be the most equitable way to do it. The wife will remain in her half of the home in its current location; the husband will live with his parents until he reconstructs his half at another site.

Python Tried to Eat Zoo Owner's Head

Renate Klosse runs a zoo in Uhldingen, Germany. Last weekend, she was cleaning out the cage of a Tiger python named Antonia when the snake attacked her!

'The jaws of the snake opened so wide that, with one lunge, she was able to completely cover the woman's face,' said a police spokeswoman.

'She feared that with a few more gulps her head would be inside.'

Klosse stuck her thumbs into the snake's jaws while her coworkers sprayed the snake with a water hose. The snake then let go, and Klosse was treated at a hospital for bite wounds and shock.

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London's Sewer-Blocking 'Fatbergs' Are Going to Be Turned Into Biodiesel
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UK officials can't exactly transform the Whitechapel fatberg—a 143-ton trash mass lurking in London's sewer system—into treasure, but they can turn it into fuel. As The Guardian reports, Scottish biodiesel producer Argent Energy plans to convert parts of the noxious blockage into an environmentally friendly energy source.

For the uninitiated, fatbergs (which get their names from a portmanteau of "fat" and "icebergs") are giant, solid blobs of congealed fat, oil, grease, wet wipes, and sanitary products. They form in sewers when people dump cooking byproducts down drains, or in oceans when ships release waste products like palm oil. These sticky substances combine with floating litter to form what could be described as garbage heaps on steroids.

Fatbergs wash up on beaches, muck up city infrastructures, and are sometimes even removed with cranes from sewer pipes as a last resort. Few—if any—fatbergs, however, appear to be as potentially lethal as the one workers recently discovered under London's Whitechapel neighborhood. In a news release, private utility company Thames Water described the toxic mass as "one of the largest ever found, with the extreme rock-solid mass of wet wipes, nappies, fat and oil weighing the same as 11 double-decker buses."

Ick factor aside, the Whitechapel fatberg currently blocks a stretch of Victorian sewer more than twice the length of two fields from London's Wembley Stadium. Engineers with jet hoses are working seven days a week to break up the fatberg before sucking it out with tankers. But even with high-pressure streams, the job is still akin to "trying to break up concrete," says Matt Rimmer, Thames Water's head of waste networks.

The project is slated to end in October. But instead of simply disposing of the Whitechapel fatberg, officials want to make use of it. Argent Energy—which has in the past relied on sources like rancid mayonnaise and old soup stock—plans to process fatberg sludge into more than 2600 gallons of biodiesel, creating "enough environmentally friendly energy to power 350 double-decker Routemaster buses for a day," according to Thames Water.

"Even though they are our worst enemy, and we want them dead completely, bringing fatbergs back to life when we do find them in the form of biodiesel is a far better solution for everyone," said company official Alex Saunders.

In addition to powering buses, the Whitechapel fatberg may also become an unlikely cultural touchstone: The Museum of London is working with Thames Water to acquire a chunk of the fatberg, according to BBC News. The waste exhibit will represent just one of the many challenges facing cities, and remind visitors that they are ultimately responsible for the fatberg phenomenon.

"When it comes to preventing fatbergs, everyone has a role to play," Rimmer says. "Yes, a lot of the fat comes from food outlets, but the wipes and sanitary items are far more likely to be from domestic properties. The sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish."

[h/t The Guardian]

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Kevin Burkett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Restaurant Seeks Donations to Big Mouth Billy Bass Adoption Center
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Kevin Burkett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’ve ever wondered where all those Big Mouth Billy Bass singing fish that flew off shelves in the early 2000s have gone, take a look inside a Flying Fish restaurant. Each location of the southern seafood chain is home to its own Big Mouth Billy Bass Adoption Center, and they’re always accepting new additions to the collection.

According to Atlas Obscura, the gimmick was the idea of Dallas-based restaurateur Shannon Wynne. He opened his flagship Flying Fish in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2002 when the Big Mouth Billy Bass craze was just starting to wind down. As people grew tired of hearing the first 30 seconds of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” for the thousandth time, he offered them a place to bring their wall ornaments once the novelty wore off. The Flying Fish promises to “house, shelter, love, and protect” each Billy Bass they adopt. On top of that, donors get a free basket of catfish in exchange for the contribution and get their name on the wall. The Little Rock location now displays hundreds of the retired fish.

Today there are nine Flying Fish restaurants in Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee, each with its own Adoption Center. There’s still space for new members of the family, so now may be the time to break out any Billy Basses that have been collecting dust in your attic since 2004.

And if you’re interested in stopping into Flying Fish for a bite to eat, don’t let the wall of rubber nostalgia scare you off: The batteries from all the fish have been removed, so you can enjoy your meal in peace.


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