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The Weird Week in Review

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Man Fights Off Shark, Stitches Up Leg, Goes to Pub

James Grant of Colac Bay, New Zealand, was spear fishing with friends when he was attacked by a shark. He stabbed the shark with a knife, which caused it to leave. When he got out of the water, he saw a deep gash in his leg where the shark bit him. Grant, a junior doctor, removed his wetsuit and stitched up the wound, using supplies from a first aid kit. Then he and his friends went to the Colac Bay Tavern. The bar staff gave him a towel because his wound was bleeding onto the floor. Sometime afterward, he went to a hospital for a proper re-stitching. Grant plans to return to the water as soon as the stitches are out.

Genius Gets Free Lunch for a Year from Airline

This scheme would never pay off with an American airline, but it was well worth it for an unnamed man in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China. He bought a first-class ticket for a flight, then went to the airport and showed the ticket for admittance to China Eastern Airlines VIP lounge, where they serve complimentary meals with complimentary drinks. Then he left the lounge and changed his ticket to a flight for the next day. Then he returned and got another complimentary meal, with drinks. He changed his itinerary and took meals more than 300 times! When the ticket was about to expire, he cancelled it and got a full refund. The airline acknowledged that he did nothing illegal. What do you want to bet that China Eastern Airlines will change its policies soon to be more in line with other airlines that charge a fee for changes in itinerary and for cancellations?

90 Farting Cows Start Fire in Germany

This is what happens when you put too many well-fed cows in one shed. Maybe it was cold outside, but close quarters do not stop cows from farting. And the gas from 90 cows can be dangerous.

High levels of the gas had built up in the structure in the central German town of Rasdorf, then "a static electric charge caused the gas to explode with flashes of flames," the force said in a statement.

The report says the roof was damaged. We can imagine it being blown clean off. The cows fared pretty well, with only one animal being treated for burns.

River Flows with Scotch Whisky

It wasn’t a truck spill, but a serious mistake. A truck carrying 27,500 liters of Scotch whisky emptied its cargo into the wrong vat at a bottler in Scotland. The vat overflowed, and 6,600 liters went into the River Ayr. Don’t head to Scotland to take advantage of the situation, because the spill happened in 2011. This week, a fine of £12,000 was levied against Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Limited for polluting the river (need I say, one man’s pollution is another man’s Scotch and water). The company has set systems in place to ensure that such a mistake doesn’t happen again.

Thousands of Chickens Cross the Road

Why did all the chickens cross the road? To get to the other side, silly! And also because they were escaping from the truck that was transporting them when it overturned. The truck was filled with chicken coops when it turned over on a highway in Guizhou province. Coops containing about 3,000 chickens broke open, and the birds made a run for it. Police jumped in to help round up about 900 of the chickens. The rest are presumable wandering the countryside. Let’s just hope they look both ways before crossing the road again. With video.

Town Buried in Tumbleweeds

The residents of Clovis, New Mexico, were surprised when they woke up Monday morning to find they were buried in tumbleweeds! A wind from the north brought tumbleweeds to Clovis, and they settled up against the houses on the north side of town. Some homes had tumbleweeds up to their roofs, and doors and garages were covered. City crews went to work, and neighbors pitched in to help dig out the homes that were obstructed by the weeds. They are in the process of hauling them all to the city landfill, and hope to have the town cleaned up by the weekend.

Marijuana to Be Judged at Denver County Fair

County fairs are traditionally the time to show off garden produce and livestock, and maybe ride a ferris wheel and eat fried food on a stick. The tradition spread to Denver only in 2011, with a fair that started out to be new and different. What will be new and different this year is marijuana judging and a joint-rolling competition.

There won't actually be any marijuana at the fairgrounds. The judging will be done off-site, with photos showing the winning entries. And a live joint-rolling contest will be done with oregano, not pot.

But county fair organizers say the marijuana categories will add a fun twist on Denver's already-quirky county fair, which includes a drag queen pageant, tattoo competitions and a contest for homemade robots.

The Denver County Fair will run August 1-3.

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The iMac Was Almost Called the MacMan
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After breaking out with its Macintosh line of personal computers in the 1980s, Apple was in a slump. Sales had flagged as Microsoft's Windows operating system made waves. In 1998, the company was set to unveil a product that it hoped would reinvigorate its brand.

And they almost blew it.

According to Ken Segall, the advertising genius behind their "Think Different" campaign, Apple founder Steve Jobs was expecting the iMac to reverse the company's ailing fortunes. Where older Macs had been boxy, beige, and bland, the iMac came in an assortment of colors and had a transparent chassis that showed off its circuitry. The problem, as Segall writes in his new book, Insanely Simple, was that Jobs didn't want to call it the iMac. He wanted to call it the MacMan.

"While that frightening name is banging around in your head, I'd like you to think for a moment about the art of product naming," Segall writes. "Because of all the things in this world that cry out for simplicity, product naming probably contains the most glaring examples of right and wrong. From some companies, you see names like 'iPhone.' From others you see names like ‘Casio G'zOne Commando' or the ‘Sony DVP SR200P/B' DVD player."

According to Segall, Jobs liked the fact that MacMan was slightly reminiscent of Sony's Walkman branding concept for its line of cassette players. (Later, Sony had a Discman, Pressman, and Talkman.) But Segall, who named products for a living, feared the name would take away from Apple's identity as being original. It was also gender-biased, and alienating an entire demographic of consumers was never a good thing.

Instead, Segall suggested "iMac," with the "i" for internet, because the unit was designed to connect easily to the web. Jobs "hated" the idea, along with other suggestions, even though Segall felt the iMac could provide a foundation to name other devices, just as Sony's Walkman had. Segall kept suggesting it, and Jobs eventually had it printed on a prototype model to see how it would look. After encouragement from his staff, he dropped MacMan. With this key contribution, Segall made sure no one would be lining up to buy a PhoneMan 10 years later. 

[h/t FastCoDesign]

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Big Questions
What Are Those Tiny Spots on Apples?
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The little pinprick spots on apples, pears, and potatoes are called lenticels (LEN-tih-sells), and they’re very important.

Plants need a constant stream of fresh air, just like people, and that “fresh air” means carbon dioxide. Flowers, trees, and fruit all take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. But unlike people, plants don’t have nostrils.

That's where a plant's lenticels come in. Each little speck is an opening in the fruit or tuber’s skin or the tree’s bark. Carbon dioxide goes in, and oxygen comes out. Through these minuscule snorkels, a plant is able to “breathe.”

Like any opening, lenticels are vulnerable to infection and sickness. In an apple disease called lenticel breakdown, a nutrient deficiency causes the apples’ spots to darken and turn into brown pits. This doesn’t hurt the inside of the fruit, but it does make the apple look pretty unattractive. In the equally appealing “lenticel blotch pit,” the skin around the apple’s lenticels gets patchy and dark, like a weird rash. 

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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