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English Polar Research Vessel Won't Be Named 'Boaty McBoatface'

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Sorry, internet: The UK's brand-new, nearly $300 million polar research ship won’t be called Boaty McBoatface, BBC News reports. Instead, it’s going to be named the RRS Sir David Attenborough, after the legendary English broadcaster and naturalist, officials announced this morning. As a consolation prize, they’re giving the name Boaty McBoatface to a high-tech Arctic submarine instead.

"The public provided some truly inspirational and creative names, and while it was a difficult decision I'm delighted that our state-of-the-art polar research ship will be named after one of the nation's most cherished broadcasters and natural scientists," England’s science minister, Jo Johnson, said in a statement.

The vessel made international headlines in March after the UK's Natural Environment Research Council’s website (NERC) launched an open online poll to find it a name. Perhaps a little too predictably, voters ignored the NERC’s stipulations that the name be "inspirational and about environmental and polar science.”

The name Boaty McBoatface—which was jokingly suggested by former BBC presenter James Hand—ended up receiving a total of 124,109 votes, beating more dignified suggestions like the RRS Poppy-Mai and Henry Worsley. (Worsley was a famous British explorer, who died last January while trying to cross the Antarctic unaided.) Other nominations included It's Bloody Cold Here, What Iceberg, Captain Haddock, Big Shipinnit, Science!!!, and Big Metal Floaty Thingy-thing.

Not surprisingly, government officials ended up overriding the poll once it finally ended on April 16. Their final selection, the RSS David Attenborough, only received 10,284 votes, and ranked fifth overall, Gizmodo reports. However, leading scientists say it’s a good name for a state-of-the-art research ship—and a fitting way to celebrate the renowned Attenborough, who turns 90 on Sunday.

"We are delighted with the name RRS David Attenborough,” Jane Francis, director of the British Antarctic Survey (one of the ship’s primary users), told BBC News. “He is an important public figure who has engaged and inspired the public over generations with his passion for the natural world. This new ship will be at the forefront of polar science and deliver world-leading capability for UK research in both Antarctica and the Arctic."

[h/t BBC News]

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German Police Tried to Fine Someone $1000 for Farting at Them
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Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images for IMG

In Berlin, passing gas can cost you. Quite a lot, actually, in the case of a man accused of disrespecting police officers by releasing a pair of noxious farts while being detained by the police. As CityLab reports, Berlin’s police force has recently been rocked by a scandal hinging on the two farts of one man who was asked to show his ID to police officers while partying on an evening in February 2016.

The man in question was accused of disrespecting the officers involved by aiming his flatulence at a policewoman, and was eventually slapped with a fine of 900 euros ($1066) in what local media called the "Irrer-Pups Prozess," or "Crazy Toot Trial." The errant farter was compelled to show up for court in September after refusing to pay the fine. A judge dismissed the case in less than 10 minutes.

But the smelly situation sparked a political scandal over the police resources wasted over the non-crime. It involved 18 months, 23 public officials, and 17 hours of official time—on the taxpayers’ dime. Officials estimate that those two minor toots cost taxpayers more than $100, which is chump change in terms of city budgets, but could have been used to deal with more pressing criminal issues.

[h/t CityLab]

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In 1909, a Door-to-Door Catnip Salesman Incited a Riot in New York
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In 1909, New York City businessman G. Herman Gottlieb was looking for a way to make a quick buck. He found it in a wooded section of Northern Manhattan, where wild catnip grew. After harvesting two baskets full of the plant, Gottlieb headed downtown to Harlem, intending to sell the product to residents with pampered felines.

As the history blog The Hatching Cat recounts, what Gottlieb didn’t know was that the neighborhood was also home to plenty of feral cats with voracious appetites. As Gottlieb made his way around the neighborhood, a handful of stray cats seized upon some leaves that had fallen out of his basket and began writhing and rolling around on the ground. Soon, even more kitties joined in, and “jumped up at his baskets, rubbed themselves against his legs, mewing, purring, and saying complimentary things about him,” according to an August 19, 1909 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Gottlieb tried to frighten the cats away, according to The Washington Times’s account of the event, but the persistent animals wouldn’t budge. “All of them, rich and poor, aristocrats from the sofa cushions near the front windows and thin plebians from the areaways struggled mightily to get into the two baskets of catnip,” the Times wrote. Soon, Gottlieb found himself surrounded by somewhere between 30 and 40 cats, each one of them clamoring for his goods.

When he eventually spotted a policeman, Gottlieb thought he’d found an ally against the cats. Instead, Sergeant John F. Higgins promptly arrested Gottlieb for inciting a crowd. (“Why don’t you arrest the catnip?” Gottlieb asked him, according to the Times. “That is collecting the crowd. Not I.”)

Trailed by several cats, Higgins and Gottlieb made their way to a police station on East 104th Street. But when they arrived, authorities couldn’t decide whether or not the salesman had actually broken any laws.

“We can’t hold this man,” Lieutenant Lasky, the officer who received the arrest report, said. “The law says a man must not cause a crowd of people to collect. The law doesn’t say anything about cats.”

“The law doesn’t say anything about people,” Higgins replied. “It says ‘a crowd.’ A crowd of cats is certainly a crowd.” Amid this debate, a station cat named Pete began fighting with the invading felines, and, with the help of some policemen, eventually drove the catnip-hungry kitties out of the building.

Gottlieb was eventually released, and even driven home in a patrol wagon—all while being chased by a few lingering cats, still hot on the trail of his now regrettable merchandise.

[h/t The Hatching Cat]

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