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The Weird Week in Review

Children Direct Air Traffic

An air traffic controller at New York City's JFK airport brought his two children to work with him on two consecutive days last month and allowed then to speak to pilots over an air traffic control frequency. A audio recording shows how the controller's young son spoke to an airborne Air Mexico pilot and cleared a Jet Blue pilot for takeoff. The unnamed controller brought his daughter to work the next day and allowed her to speak to air traffic as well. Both the controller and his immediate supervisor are on paid leave as the FAA investigates the incident.

Breast Implant Stops Bullet

Lydia Carranza survived a gunshot wound in her chest during a workplace shooting last year. Dr. Ashkan Ghavami, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, credits her size D breast implants with stopping the bullet from entering her heart. The medical team that originally treated Carranza is not so sure.

"It's a ballistics issue," Kris Carraway, a spokeswoman for Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, told the Times. "The emergency physician who treated the patient was not aware of the breast implant having any impact or whether or not it saved her life."

An LAPD firearms instructor told the Times it's possible the implant interrupted the velocity of the bullet.

Dr. Ghavami has offered Carranza his services at a reduced price for reconstruction of her implants.

Wedding Elephant Destroys Limousines

An elephant hired for a wedding in New Delhi, India had romance on his mind as well. Instead of waiting to do his job, the elephant responded to the scent of a female in heat and trampled over twenty limousines and other vehicles, a sugar cane field, and a shopping mall. The elephant was brought down with a tranquilizer gun six hours later. It is estimated that the elephant caused £200,000 in damage.

Turtle Racing

Imagine a sport where you can finish a drink in the midst of a race of only a few feet! Turtle racing has become a trend in metropolitan bars like Bucky's Grill and Pub in Indianapolis, where the first turtle race was held last month. Raffle tickets are handed out to patrons, and a drawing determines who get to be an honorary jockey for each of the six turtles. However, the only person to actually handle the turtles is a licensed reptile handler.

ATF Seizes 30 Toy Guns

Brad Martin and his son Ben sell Airsoft BB guns at their store on Cornelius, Oregon. A recent shipment of 30 of the toy guns were intercepted and seized by ATF agents when they entered the country at Tacoma, Washington.

The Martins said they buy their stock from Taiwan because the merchandise is less expensive. But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seized a shipment of 30 in October. That shipment is worth around $12,000 and the ATF is promising to destroy the entire shipment.

Special Agent Kelvin Crenshaw said the toys can be easily retro-fitted into dangerous weapons.

Martin disputes that the guns can be converted.

Unlicensed Pilot Flew for 13 Years

Dutch police arrested a 41-year-old man in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 as he was about to take off from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport with 101 passengers. The unnamed man was employed as a pilot for Corendon Airlines of Turkey, but did not have a valid pilot's license! He was once licensed to fly small planes, but was never certified to fly commercial airliners. He said he had been flying for airlines for 13 years. Police in Amsterdam were notified of the pilot's status by Swedish authorities. He was charged with flying without a license and forgery.

Couple Arrested on Wedding Day

22-year-old Marissa Ann Putignano-Keene and 37-year-old Timothy Keene were married in Barnstable, Massachusetts. The wedding took an ugly turn when the couple ran into a former girlfriend of the groom. Literally ran into, as the new Mrs. Keene was driving and tried to run the unnamed woman and her son down in the parking lot of the Barnstable Town Hall. The groom was also in the vehicle. The bride was arrested for assault and battery, and the groom was arrested for disorderly conduct. The newlyweds spent their wedding night in jail. Separate cells, of course.

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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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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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