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Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The English Town That Changed Its Name Because of Sacha Baron Cohen

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

While a shout-out on a popular TV show might be a boon for some small towns, many of the residents of Staines, a town on the River Thames in Surrey, England, were pretty displeased when their hometown became a recurring joke on Sacha Baron Cohen’s Da Ali G Show, which ran from 2000 to 2004. In fact, according to Condé Nast Traveler, residents were so upset to be named as the fictional Ali G’s hometown that they changed the town’s name, making the official switch to the slightly fancier-sounding Staines-upon-Thames.

Baron Cohen’s alter-ego Ali G, a white suburbanite who plays at being a streetwise rapper, claims to live in the heart of the “Staines Ghetto.” The location serves as an in-joke for Brits familiar with the relatively affluent London commuter town. Being from Staines is the opposite of being from the ghetto, in other words, adding to Ali G’s poser persona. The town’s greatest claim to fame before Baron Cohen made its name famous was that it is a major producer of linoleum—and that it was the hometown of the decorated World War II homing pigeon All Alone.

Unfortunately, many Staines residents didn’t appreciate the joke. In 2011, the chairman of a local commerce group claimed that the town's association with Ali G was lowering its property values.

“There’s no doubt Ali G put Staines on the map,” Alex Tribick of the Spelthorne Business Forum said, “but for all the wrong reasons. He put the stain in Staines.” The borough council voted in favor of changing the name to Staines-upon-Thames in December 2011, no doubt leading newscasters everywhere to stumble over the phrase “Staines-upon-Thames name change.”

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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This $20 Board Game From JetBlue Includes a Free Round-Trip Flight
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Still looking for a last-minute gift idea? Here’s an affordable item that everyone in your family will be fighting over: As Travel + Leisure reports, JetBlue is selling a $20 board game that includes complimentary round-trip airfare.

The object of the limited-edition game, called Get Packing!, is to fill up your board with personal belongings in preparation for your flight and prevent other players from doing the same. Sounds simple enough, but if you play the way JetBlue recommends, the gameplay will get competitive fast: The first person to fill their bag wins a certificate that can be redeemed for a real round-trip flight.

Winners have from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018 to book their free trip. Destinations eligible for flights include domestic cities as well as ones abroad, like Quito, Ecuador and Lima, Peru. Taxes and other fees apply and travelers will still have to pay blackout rates on busy travel days.

After debuting the deal on Amazon on December 12, the product quickly sold out. Fortunately, a new batch will be made available on December 18 at 3 p.m.—just remember to act fast, as it’s likely to be a hot item on everyone’s wish list.

Board game from JetBlue.
JetBlue, Amazon

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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Meet Piper: The Border Collie Making a Michigan Airport Safer for Travelers
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Birds may look harmless on solid ground, but in the sky they pose a big threat to any aircraft crossing their path. The Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan, uses a low-tech approach to the problem: a border collie named Piper.

Great Big Story profiled Piper and his handler, airport operations supervisor Brian Edwards, in a recent video. Piper’s job as the airport’s wildlife control canine is chasing away large birds that could strike incoming and outgoing planes, potentially causing anything from dents to engine failure. In Michigan, this usually means large waterfowl like ducks and geese, but it can also include crows, gulls, and snowy owls.

After he’s deployed from a moving car, Piper heads for the birds, scattering them away from the tarmac and teaching them to associate the area with predators. Piper is just doing what most border collies would do in the presence of a flock of birds, only in this case he gets to wear stylish protective goggles while following his instincts.

You can watch the full story below.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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