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The Weird Week in Review

Naked Unicyclist Charged For Distracting Drivers

Joseph Glynn Farley of Clear Lake, Texas, was arrested in nearby Kemah for indecent exposure when he rode a unicycle naked on a bridge. Police chief Greg Rikard said Farley kept falling off the unicycle, causing a traffic hazard. However, he was not intoxicated. The 45-year-old Farley said he liked the feeling of riding without clothes. Police had warned him earlier, before he shed his clothing, not to ride the unicycle on the bridge.

A Prom Night to Remember

A group of high school students in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, were decked out for the prom last Saturday night. They headed to Lac La Belle and posed for group pictures on the lake's pier. Then the pier collapsed. The quick-thinking photographer kept shooting, resulting in an unforgettable sequence of pictures. The wet teenagers, attempting to save the occasion, ran so many hairdryers -plus a clothes dryer- in one home that they blew a breaker, but managed to make it to the prom.

Man Exposes Himself at Association for the Blind

Once again, real life recreates a scene from the movies, namely Revenge of the Nerds. A man exposed himself to a woman inside the Bucks County Association for the Blind in Newtown Township, Pennsylvania. The incident occurred in the facility's bookstore. The flasher fled before police arrived. One has to wonder how many times he tried it before someone noticed.

Becoming Mayor by Accident

Gino Bertolo was the only candidate running for mayor in Cimolais, Italy, a town of 507 citizens. Fearing that no one would turn out to vote, he asked his friend Fabio Borsatti to throw his name into the hat as well to produce a turnout on election day. Borsatti agreed, but still voted for Bertolo, who had served as mayor previously. When the ballots were counted, Borsatti, who had no platform, received 160 votes to Bertolo's 117. Even Borsatti's family voted for Bertolo! However, Borsatti intends to carry out the duties of his unintended office, and will focus his efforts on tourism. Bertolo says he is not upset, and is still friends with the new mayor.

Parakeet Knows Its Home Address

A lost parakeet flew into a hotel in Sagamihara, Japan, and landed on a guest’s shoulder. Since no one knew where the bird came from, it was taken in a cage to a local police station. For two days it sat there. Then the parakeet must have decided it was time to go home.

Despite giving no indications that it could talk, the bird suddenly piped up late on Tuesday night and began repeating its home address – which its owner had apparently drummed into the bird for just such an unlikely eventuality.

Specifying the address down to the number of the house and the block on which is stands, the bird enabled police to track down its 64-year-old owner.

Fumie Takahashi is glad to have her parakeet back. And that answers the question of what is the first thing you should teach your bird to say.

My Name is Tyrannosaurus Rex

Twenty-three-year-old entrepreneur Tyler Gold was looking for name recognition to help his business, a way to stand out in the crowd. So he appeared in York County District Court in Nebraska on Monday to have his name legally changed to Tyrannosaurus Rex Joseph Gold. Gold said he selected the new name because it's "cooler." However, the nature of Gold's business did not make it into the news.

Burglars Break Into Poison-filled Home

T.V. Sagnella of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, had his home treated for termites, which involved covering the entire house with a plastic tent. Burglars know that a tent over the house is a sign the owners are not inside, so Sagnella rigged his home with video cameras. His brother checked the live feed at 4:30 AM Wednesday and saw a robbery in progress. The group of burglars didn't get much because an alarm tripped and police responded. Officers could not enter the house due to toxic fumes which could be felt even outside the tent. Before the police left, they received word from a flea market about an attempt to sell the stolen items. Three suspects were arrested in a vehicle that contained stolen jewelry. The story contains the surveillance video.

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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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