— The Space World theme park in Kitakyushu, Japan, opened a popular ice-skating rink in November, but was forced to close it two weeks later because it was extremely unpopular with social media critics. The park had placed 5,000 fish and other sea animals in the ice deck of its “Freezing Port” rink so that skaters could look down as they glided along, gazing at marvels of nature (all dead, of course). The park manager apologized for grossing out so many people and closed the exhibit, melting the ice and conducting an “appropriate religious service” for the fishes’ souls.
Government in Action
New York City’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation has completed its two-year project of assigning ID numbers to every one of the 685,781 trees in the city’s five boroughs. More than 2,300 volunteers walked the streets, then posted each tree’s location, measurements, Google Street View image, and ecological benefits for the surrounding neighborhoods.
The Continuing Crisis
A note in The New York Times mentioned a website that comprehensively covers everything worth knowing about shoelaces. Ian’s Shoelace Site discusses lacing methods, how to mix lace colors, how to tie laces, the lengths of laces, “granny knots,” aglet repair and more. Information is neatly laid out in dozens of drawings.
— The county executive in Cleveland, Ohio, complained of a lack of funds. He complained that the county’s credit was “maxed out” because of renovations to its sports and concert venue, the Quicken Loans Arena.
— In November, after a companion asked Victoria Vanatter, 19, what blood-sucking was like, she let him slice her arm with a razor to have a taste. But the two then argued, and Vanatter allegedly grabbed a knife and slashed the man. Police in Springfield, Mo., arrested her after both people were stitched up at a hospital.
— The city of Toronto recently scheduled a conference with community leaders to discuss options for accessible housing. The first proposed site required a seven-step walk-up. Following complaints, officials relocated the meeting to a building whose only restroom was in the basement, which could only be reached by stairs.
The government-run Channel 2M in Morocco apologized for a segment of its daily TV program “Sabahiyat” that featured a make-up artist demonstrating techniques for obscuring blemishes on women who have been subjected to domestic violence. The model on the show had been made up with a swollen face and fake bruises. Said the host, “We hope these beauty tips will help victims carry on with your daily life.”
— Shogo Takeda, 24, said he desperately needed a job at the elevator maintenance company in Yokohama at which he was interviewing with the president. But he couldn’t resist taking the president’s wallet from a bag when the man briefly left the room. Takeda had dropped off his resume beforehand and was quickly apprehended.
— Mark Revill, 49, pleaded guilty in November to stalking the actor Keira Knightley. He said he had become frustrated that his flood of love letters was being ignored; so he approached the front door of Knightley’s London home and “meowed” through the letterbox.
Wait — You Mean This Is Illegal?
— A substitute teacher at Sandhills Middle School in Gaston, S.C., was charged with cruelty to children in December after she taped two kids to their desk chairs for misbehaving.
— A second-grade teacher at Landis Elementary in Houston was charged with felony cruelty after video showed her punching a serial troublemaker in the head as he fought her while she walked him to the principal’s office.
— A high school teacher in Glasgow, Scotland, got in trouble in November for proposing in a journal that teachers be allowed to cuss back at students who cuss them. He wrote that limiting teachers to saying, “Don’t call me that” sends the wrong message.
In December, a 21-year-old man became the most recent to fall to his death during a roadside “pit stop.” Four passengers alighted from a car on the side of Interstate 15 near Escondido, Calif; two returned without incident. A third fell 40 feet but survived.
The Passing Parade
— A 22-year-old man pedaling a vending cart through downtown Victoria, B.C., with the lettering “420 delivery” on the side of the cart was stopped by police, who found a stash of marijuana. The man had conscientiously printed underneath the sign “NO MINORS.”
— In October, Chicago alderman Howard Brookins, Jr., publicly denounced “aggressive” squirrels that were gnawing through trash cans and costing the city $300,000. A month later, Brookins was badly injured in a bicycle collision when a squirrel jumped into one of his bicycle wheels, sending Brookins over the handlebar.
A News of the Weird Classic
In 2013, officials at Seaford, England’s, 12th-century St. Peter’s Church, which is renowned for its eerie quietness, created a 30-minute CD of silence — first as a small-scale fundraising project. Those who have heard the recording say they can make out only the occasional squeaking of footsteps on the wooden floor and the very distant hum of a passing car. Said one admiring parishioner, “People sometimes like to sit down and just have a bit of peace and quiet.”
Humanity has accumulated 30 trillion tons of “stuff,” according to research by University of Leicester geologists. That’s enough to put over 100 pounds’ worth over every square meter of the planet’s surface. The scientists, who are writing in the Anthropocene Review, are alarmed that very little of this stuff is ever recycled, and that buried layers of technofossils that define our era will clutter and weigh down the planet, hampering future generations.
Finer Points of the Law
A federal appeals court agreed with a jury that Battle Creek, Mich., police were justified in shooting and killing two family dogs during a legal search of a house’s basement. Mark and Cheryl Brown pointed out that their dogs never attacked the police. One officer, they said, was “just standing there” when the dogs were killed. The officers said that conducting a thorough search of the premises might have riled the dogs and threatened their safety.
If You See Something, Say Something
Hamden (Conn.) High School was put into lockdown for an hour on Dec. 15 when a student was seen running in the hallway, zig-zagging from side to side, swinging an arm and leaping into the air. Police were called. On arrival, they learned it was just a 12th-grade male pretending to dunk a basketball.
For 10 years, organized crime rings operated a makeshift U.S. “embassy” in a rundown pink building in Accra, the capital of Ghana, issuing official-looking identification papers, including “visas” that theoretically permitted entry into the United States. The U.S. State Dept. finally persuaded Ghanian officials to close the operation down. It is not known whether any clients were ever caught trying to immigrate. The “embassy,” which had a U.S. flag outside, featured “consular officers” who collected $6,000 per visa.
Don’t Mess With Maw-Maw
In November, an arranged custody swap of a child from one grandmother to another in a Walmart parking lot near Dallas ended when both women pulled guns and started firing. One granny was hit in the neck; the other was arrested after she fired at an off-duty officer who was trying to calm things down.
Weird Old World
— Wu Jianping, 25, from China’s Henan province, complained that he had been denied home loans at several banks for not providing fingerprints. As a result of a childhood accident, he has no arms. He signs documents by holding a pen in his mouth. He was not allowed to substitute toeprints.
— Classes were canceled in early December in the village of Batagai in the Yakutia region of Siberia when the temperature reached minus 53 degrees. However, students older than 15 were still expected to get to school. Yakutia is regarded as the coldest inhabited region on the planet.
Not Ready for Prime Time
— Leonard Rinaldi, 53, was arrested in Torrington, Conn., following his theft of a rare-coin collection belonging to his father. The coins were valued at $8,000. But Rinaldi’s son tried to hide his theft by running his haul through a Coinstar coin-cashing machine. He netted a cool $60.
— James Walsh was arrested at a Walmart in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Dec. 12 after carting out a big-screen TV. Walsh said he had swiped a TV on Dec. 11 with no problem. But he failed to notice that on the 12th, the store had a “shop with a cop” event at which St. Lucie County deputies were buying toys for kids.
Great Moments In Inflation
In mid-December, the Venezuelan government declared its largest-currency bill — the 100 Bolivar note — worthless, replacing it with larger denomination currency. The 100 Bolivar’s value had shrunk to 2 cents on the black market. Stacks of it were required to make even the smallest food purchases. Since wallets could no longer hold the notes, robbers feasted on the packages of money people carried around while shopping.