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The Weird Week in Review

Drunk Driver Speeds in Wrong Direction

Victims of near-misses say it was a miracle that no one was hurt when a woman drove 18 miles north in the southbound lane of Washington State's I-5 expressway. Pamela Drawsby of Olympia, Washington, was arrested after police set a spike strip to stop her vehicle. She was observed driving up to 100 miles per hour at 2AM -against all oncoming traffic. Amazingly, there were no collisions as other drivers swerved to avoid the northbound vehicle. The 60-year-old Drawsby was found to be intoxicated on a combination of alcohol and prescription medication.

Sweden's Silliest Place Names

We've read about strange and sometimes embarrassing place names in Britain and the U.S., but English-speaking tourists often don't know when a place name in another language is, shall we say, unusual. Thanks to the English-language site The Local, we have translations for the strangest-named places in Sweden.

People outside Uppsala, for example, can take a stroll in the terrain of Djupröven (Deep Arse), and outside Gothenburg one can enjoy a swim in any of the Yellow, Small or Big Arse lakes (Gula Röven, Lilla Röven, Stora Röven).

A somewhat cuter name but still perhaps not the first pick to put on your resumé, is Kattsjärten in Värmland. The Local's translation for this (hopefully) unusual name is Cat's Bottom.

But that's just the beginning. Check out Sex Swamp, Snot Bog, and more.

Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop Arrested

A 30-year-old man in Madison, Wisconsin found a way to get his 15 minutes of fame. Jeffrey Drew Wilschke had legally changed his name in October to Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop. That makes a great headline in itself, but Zopittybop-Bop-Bop was arrested last Thursday after neighbors complained of "excessive drug use." Police recorded quite a few charges, including carrying a concealed weapon, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, and probation violations. When Zopittybop-Bop-Bop was taken into custody, he told police he would "get even with them."

Couple Married for 86 Years

Karam and Kartari Chand of Bradford, England, recently celebrated their 86th wedding anniversary. They married when Kartari was just 13 and Karam was 20. According to passport information, Karam is now 106 years old and his wife is 99. They married in 1925, and now believe they could be the longest-married couple in the United Kingdom. The couple lives with one of their eight children. The Chands also have 27 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren.

Don't Pay Your Taxes, Get "Dumped"

Authorities in Patna, the capital of Bihar state in India, thought they had found an appropriate punishment for a shop owner who owed back taxes. They sent three truckloads of garbage to be dumped in front of Avinash Kumar's store! Kumar owed the local government 164,000 rupees ($3,175). Neighboring business owners complained about the smell, and municipal workers later retrieved the garbage. After the public outcry, city officials say they do not intend to use this method of punishment again.

New Clue in Glenn Miller's Disappearance

As a young man in the 1940s, Richard Anderton watched planes as a hobby. In small notebooks, he jotted down details of all the planes he observed overhead Woodley, Reading, England, at the airfield where he worked. A recently-discovered entry shows that Anderton had observed the plane that carried bandleader Glenn Miller on December 15, 1944, on a flight to France from Bedfordshire when it disappeared. No one knows what happened to the plane to this day, but Atherton's notebook confirms part of the path it took.

It was not until his brother, 77-year-old Sylvan Anderton, brought the books into the BBC's Antiques Roadshow TV programme 67 years later that the entry came to light.

"I'd had them for about 28 years and really didn't do anything about it," said Mr Anderton, who grew up in Reading but now lives in Bideford, Devon.

"I knew there was a connection because he'd cut out an article from the Daily Express in 1969 about Glenn Miller's disappearance and he'd put it in the pages in the notebook for 15 December 1944."

The Glenn Miller Archive at Colorado University has confirmed the new information, and will include it in their official report.

Man Rescued from Sewer Faces More Trouble

An unnamed man in the town of Montmélian, France, dropped his wallet into a sewer opening in a parking garage and went to retrieve it. He then became stuck, with his head in the pipe and his legs sticking out of the manhole. The man spent the entire night like that until a passer-by called emergency services in the morning. After he was rescued, police figured out what he was doing when it happened. The man didn't have the chance to hide the fact that he had been draining the oil from his car into the the sewer. This is a form of pollution that could bring a fine of up to €76,000 ($97,000) and two years in prison.

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Billions of Cockroaches Are Bred in China to Create a ‘Healing Potion’
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Insectophobes would probably agree that any place that breeds billions of cockroaches a year is akin to hell on Earth.

That place actually exists—in the Sichuan Province city of Xichang—but China's government says it's all for a good cause. The indoor farm is tasked with breeding 6 billion creepy-crawlies a year to meet the country's demand for a special "healing potion" whose main ingredient is ground-up roaches.

While there are other cockroach breeding facilities in China that serve the same purpose, the one in Xichang is the world's largest, with a building "the size of two sports fields," according to the South China Morning Post.

The facility is reportedly dark, humid, and fully sealed, with cockroaches given the freedom to roam and reproduce as they please. If, for any odd reason, someone should want to visit the facility, they'd have to swap out their day clothes for a sanitized suit to avoid bringing pollutants or pathogens into the environment, according to Guangming Daily,a government newspaper.

The newspaper article contains a strangely poetic description of the cockroach farm:

"There were very few human beings in the facility. Hold your breath and (you) only hear a rustling sound. Whenever flashlights swept, the cockroaches fled. Wherever the beam landed, there was a sound like wind blowing through leaves. It was just like standing in the depths of a bamboo forest in late autumn."

Less poetic, though, is the description of how the "miracle" potion is made. Once the bugs reach maturity, they are fed into machines and ground up into a cockroach paste. The potion claims to work wonders for stomach pain and gastric ailments, and according to its packaging, it has a "slightly sweet" taste and a "slightly fishy smell."

The provincial government claims that the potion has healed more than 40 million patients, and that the Xichang farm is selling its product to more than 4000 hospitals throughout China. While this may seem slightly off-putting, cockroaches have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Some studies seem to support the potential nutritional benefit of cockroaches. The BBC reported on the discovery that cockroaches produce their own antibiotics, prompting scientists to question whether they could be used in drugs to help eliminate bacterial infections such as E. coli and MRSA.

In 2016, scientists in Bangalore, India, discovered that the guts of one particular species of cockroach contain milk protein crystals that appear to be nutritious, TIME reports. They said the milk crystal could potentially be used as a protein supplement for human consumption, as it packs more than three times the energy of dairy milk.

"I could see them in protein drinks," Subramanian Ramaswamy, a biochemist who led the study, told The Washington Post.

However, as research has been limited, it's unlikely that Americans will start to see cockroach smoothies at their local juice bar anytime soon.

[h/t South China Morning Post]

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Massive Tumbleweeds Invaded a California Town, Trapping Residents in Their Homes
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For Americans who don’t live out west, any mention of tumbleweeds tends to conjure up images of a lone bush blowing lazily across the desert. The reality is not so romantic, as Californians would tell you.

The town of Victorville, California—an 85-mile drive from Los Angeles—was overtaken by massive tumbleweeds earlier this week when wind speeds reached nearly 50 mph. The tumbleweeds blew across the Mojave Desert and into town, where they piled up on residents’ doorsteps. Some stacks towered as high as the second story, trapping residents in their homes, according to the Los Angeles Times.

City employees and firefighters were dispatched to tackle the thorny problem, which reportedly affected about 150 households. Pitchforks were used to remove the tumbleweeds, some of which were as large as 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide.

"The crazy thing about tumbleweeds is that they are extremely thorny, they connect together like LEGOs," Victorville spokeswoman Sue Jones told the Los Angeles Times. "You can't reach out and grab them and move them. You need special tools. They really hurt."

Due to the town’s proximity to the open desert, residents are used to dealing with the occasional tumbleweed invasion. Similar cases have been reported in Texas, New Mexico, and other states in the West and Southwest. In 1989, the South Dakota town of Mobridge had to use machinery to remove 30 tons of tumbleweeds, which had buried homes, according to Metro UK.

Several plant species are considered a tumbleweed. The plant only becomes a nuisance when it reaches maturity, at which time it dries out, breaks from its root, and gets carried off into the wind, spreading seeds as it goes. They’re not just unsightly, either. They can cause soil dryness, leading to erosion and sometimes even killing crops.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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