The Weird Week in Review

Robbers Call Bank for Take-out Money

Albert Bailey and an unidentified 16-year-old accomplice planned a bank robbery in Fairfield, Connecticut. To make things run smoother, they called a People's United Bank branch ahead of time to have them get a big bag of money ready. Ten minutes later, they showed up at the bank, where police were waiting to arrest them. They are being held on charges of robbery and threatening. A police sergeant said the suspects were "not too bright".

Kangaroo Punches Jogger

David Striegl of Canberra, Australia was jogging on Mount Ainslie during his lunch break when he was assaulted by a kangaroo who punched him in the face! Striegl was found dazed and bleeding and was taken to a hospital by a passing motorist. Striegl suffered a black eye and other cuts and bruises.

"The main thing they've been asking is whether I got one (punch) back on the roo," he told the Australian Associated Press.

"I can't even say that, because one punch and it put me to the floor.

"All my years of playing football and never a fight, and then I have a fight with a kangaroo."

The Rugby Match at the Bottom of the World

For 26 years straight, New Zealand has defeated the US in rugby to win the Ross Island Cup. But these aren't professional rugby players -they are scientists and support staff who live and work in Antarctica! The national team back home in New Zealand are the All Blacks, but the team from Scott Base goes by the name Ice Blacks. The US team from McMurdo Station, well, most of them don't even know how to play rugby before they are recruited for the annual game. Tuesday's game resulted in a score of 23-0.

Family Feared Listening Device for 11 Years

A family in Cairo, Egypt has been using noted to communicate with each other for eleven years, after they found a bug in their home, assumed to have been installed by the father Muhammad's first wife. They were afraid other listening devices were  installed in the home, so they stopped talking in the house. This behavior continued even after the family moved to a new apartment! After the ex-wife died, Muhammad asked for help from a specialist, who reported that the bug they found had never been functional.

Bragging of Crime on TV Leads to Jail

Matthew and Nora Eaton of San Marcos, California appeared on the Dr. Phil show in 2008 to talk about their business of shoplifting toys and selling them on eBay. This drew the interest of federal authorities, who searched the couple's home in May of 2009. They found 500 boxes of toys ready to be shipped out. The Eatons pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property. Last week, District Judge Irma Gonzalez sentenced Matthew Eaton to 27 months and Nora Eaton to a year in prison. Gonzalez had some choice words for Dr. Phil.

"What a charlatan this man is," the judge said during the hearing. "What a terrible, terrible man."

Gonzalez was perturbed that McGraw holds himself out as a doctor wishing to help. But, the judge said to Matthew Eaton, "he obviously didn't help you."

Kaput One Mile Short of 3,000 Mile Race

Phil Pring and Ben Cummings from Penzance, Cornwall, England participated in the Atlantic Rowing Race where contestants row their boats 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands to the West Indies. They had been at sea since January 4th. On Sunday, Pring and Cummings were less than a mile from the finish line when their boat hit a reef and they had to be rescued by Antiguan authorities. They didn't finish the race, but since they had reached Antigua, they have officially completed an Atlantic crossing. The two rowers were in 15th place when the mishap occurred.

No More New Moore Island

For years, two nations have both claimed the territory of an uninhabited island that the Bangladeshis called South Talpatti Island and the Indians called New Moore Island. The Indian Border Security Force was once called in to claim sovereignty. The dispute is now moot, as the island has vanished underwater! The island never rose more than about six feet above sea level. Professor Sugata Hazra of Jadavpur University in Calcutta blames global warming, and predicts more islands in the Indian Ocean will vanish as sea levels rise.

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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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