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Lars Mytting

The Weird Week in Review

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Lars Mytting

Norwegian TV Show on Firewood is a Hit

Lars Mytting wrote a book about firewood, which became a bestseller in Norway, where firewood is a serious subject. That led to a TV program that was 12 hours long -and consisted of eight hours of a fire burning in a fireplace. Twenty percent of Norway's citizens watched at least part of it, and dozens texted the TV station to complain about the way the firewood was stacked. The eight-hour fire was not a loop, but a continuous burn, which prompted viewers to stay tuned to see if more firewood would be added at the proper time.  

Brothers Celebrate Lottery Win by Blowing Up House

Two unnamed brothers in Wichita, Kansas, won $75,000 in the lottery. They purchased marijuana and meth to celebrate their good fortune.
 
The brothers were in a house in the 100 block of North Nevada Court, near Douglas and West Street, about 7 p.m. Friday, Watts said. One of the brothers went to the kitchen to refuel the butane torches they planned to use to light their bongs. He emptied a couple of large cans of butane lighter fluid, leaking butane into the air.

“The butane vapor reached the pilot light in the furnace, and as you might expect, ka-boom,” Watts said.

The victim was wearing a lottery T-shirt during the explosion.

The injured brother was taken to a hospital where his girlfriend dropped him off and left. Police arrested the other brother at the site of the explosion.

Bigfoot's Genome is Published

A group of researchers in Texas had a hard time getting their Sasquatch DNA sequencing study published in any respected scientific journal. So they bought one. The DeNovo Scientific Journal has only one study published, and accessing it costs $30. The study has not received any peer reviews, but a few copies of the study were sent to journalists, who have found some problems with the results.

Murder Suspect Turned Away at Police Station

After 15 months at large, Saleh Hadri decided to face the music and turn himself in to police in Sweden. The 45-year-old was wanted in connection with the murder of a gang leader in 2011. Hadri says he is innocent and wants to clear his name. However, when he went to the police station in Malmo shortly after 6 PM, he found it was closed. He explained his situation to those inside by the intercom, but was told to go to another police station, which he did -unescorted. Hadri was arrested in his second attempt to surrender. Police officials say the incident is "regrettable."

Turkish Man Cured of Vampirism

An unnamed man in Turkey was diagnosed two years ago with vampirism, dissociative identity disorder, major depressive disorder, alcohol abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The PTSD, and possibly the alcohol abuse, were attributed to the crimes he committed due to the vampirism. He began drinking his own blood and then progressed to attacking others. He was arrested several times for stabbing and biting people in order to drink their blood. The man had suffered from several traumatic incidents before turning to blood. Doctors believe he has now been cured of his "blood addiction."

Pig Trains Fire Department

The Fire and Rescue service in Avon, England has recruited a pig named Dominic to train firefighters in important skills. Dominic is a rescue pig living at the HorseWorld rescue centre in Bristol. He has escaped several times and always presents a challenge to workers in rounding him up. The Avon firefighters saw an opportunity, and will use Dominic in drills to train firefighters in rounding up animals. Many firefighters are inexperienced in dealing with animals, but after a lecture at the center and an afternoon of chasing Dominic, they are much more comfortable with the task.

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To Curb Exploding Kangaroo Populations, Ecologists Urge Australians to Eat Kangaroo Meat
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Australians eat everything from Vegemite, a spread made from leftover brewer's yeast extract, to a snack called fairy bread, otherwise known as white bread smothered in butter and rainbow sprinkles. Now, they may need to add another unique national food to their diets. BBC News reports that ecologists and landholders Down Under are encouraging people to embrace kangaroo meat to curb the nation’s surging marsupial numbers.

In 2010, Australia was home to just 27 million kangaroos. But by 2016, this figure had skyrocketed to nearly 45 million—nearly double the nation’s human population— thanks to rainy weather conditions that supplied the grazing animals with an abundance of vegetation. That's not necessarily a good thing for the species in the long run. If a drought occurs, there’s a good chance that millions of kangaroos could starve to death.

Some experts in Australia think that hunting kangaroos would be the most humane and efficient way to keep their numbers in check. But it’s not so easy to convince people to eat them.

Kangaroo meat is lean and sustainable, with a taste that’s been likened to sweet filet mignon. It can be transformed into steaks, roasts, meatballs, sausages, and kebabs. Even so, many Australians tend to dismiss the meat's culinary potential, since kangaroos are the country’s national animal. The stigma against eating them means that when hunters do nab kangaroos, the meat often goes to waste.

Plus, kangaroo meat currently fetches such a low price that hunters have little incentive to pursue the animals for commercial reasons. That means they’re not obtaining the special licenses required to hunt the nationally protected species.

Professor David Paton of the University of Adelaide supports the notion that Australia should cull the nation’s kangaroo population with humane hunting methods, he told Australian news outlets. "It's not the kangaroos' fault they're overabundant," he said. "It's probably we've just been too reluctant to take a stick to them, remove them out of the system sooner, to actually prevent the damage being caused [by the animals]," Paton said. That damage includes losses to biodiversity as the marsupials overgraze vegetation and outcompete other animals [PDF].

But no matter where Australians stand on the controversial killing and eating of kangaroos, some admit that their overpopulation leads to broken fences, trampled crops, damaged local ecosystems, and plenty of car accidents. Animal lovers are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place—and unlike kangaroos, they can’t simply leap out of the crevice.

"Two or three weeks ago we had thousands [of kangaroos] on here, just moving through,” a farmer named Garry Hannigan, who lives in New South Wales, recently told the ABC. "They were here in droves, and the amount that are being hit by cars is amazing. They're just devouring anything we've got grass-wise, they're starting to cause erosion along fences. Any of the grass country is just being pulled up by the roots." In turn, we may have to devour them.

[h/t BBC News]

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Big Questions
Why Are Cats Afraid of Cucumbers?
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Thanks to the internet, felines around the globe seem to have found a new—and unlikely—foe: the seemingly harmless garden cucumber. You’ve likely seen viral video compilations of pet owners surprising their cats with the fruit (yes, a cucumber is technically a fruit), which include footage of frightened kitties jumping, running, or clawing at the mysterious green objects before them.

Are cats and cucumbers really mortal enemies? Did an early feline ancestor eat a bad salad, or find that cucumbers made terrible scratching posts? “No, I don’t think that cats are inherently afraid of cucumbers,” Mikel Delgado, a certified cat behavior consultant who studied animal behavior and human-pet relationships as a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, tells Mental Floss.

Cats are creatures of habit, and Delgado thinks the cats in those videos—who were often ambushed from behind while bent forward eating—were simply caught off-guard while engaging in a familiar activity.

“Their eyes face forward, much like ours do,” Delgado explains. “That’s a very common structure for a face in a predator—you’re looking forward, and you’re not as worried about seeing behind you. Personally, I think that a lot of people were inadvertently startling their cats when they were already distracted. They were putting a strange object behind the cat while it was eating, the cat can’t see the object, they’re focused [on their food], and then they turn around” and see a cucumber.

The cats’ fright could be likened to how we sometimes jump or scream after we turn around and see someone standing behind us. But even though we typically laugh these moments off once the adrenaline dies down, it’s not cool to subject your cat to the same unsettling experience—especially when it’s eating.

“You want cats to feel safe when they eat,” Delgado says. “If cats don’t eat, they can become sick quite fast, and develop what’s called fatty liver disease.”

Plus, “stress can have really serious health effects on cats,” Delgado adds. “There’s been research showing that something as trivial as changing their routine can cause cats to exhibit what we call sickness behaviors: vomiting, not using their litter box, diarrhea, changes in appetite. Cats are sensitive.”

This doesn’t mean that you can’t introduce new items (say, a couch in the spot where your cat typically likes to sleep) to your household. But when you do, let Fluffy check out these unfamiliar objects on his or her own terms.

“A lot of the time people try to show a cat that something they’re afraid of isn’t scary,” Delgado says. “They’re going to inadvertently make the cat more afraid, because they’re forcing it to interact with something they’re fearful of.”

As time passes, the object will start smelling familiar, and your favorite feline will gradually relax. In the meantime, though, save the cucumbers for your salad, and keep them far away from your kitty’s food dish.

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