Pizza Hut announced that it had finally mastered the technology it needed to turn its cardboard delivery boxes into turntables for customers. The turntable boxes will be made available shortly in five stores in the United Kingdom. Each box has two record decks, a cross-fader, pitch and cue controls and the ability to rewind. Music stars P Money and DJ Vectra are featured. The boxes will sync via Bluetooth to phones and computers.
‘It’s Fun To Be A Horse’
Horse show jumping is a long-time Olympics sport. But since 2002, equestrians have been performing in “horseless” showjumping, in which horse courses are run by “riders” on foot. According to an October, 2012, Wall Street Journal report, an international association headed by retired pro equestrian Jessica Newman produces at least 15 shows a year, with 40 to 130 competitors in each show. They gallop over jumps that vary from two to four feet in height (or five feet for “Grand Prix” events). The “riders” are graded as if they were on horses; they are timed, with points taken off for contacting the rails. Explained Newman, “It’s just fun to be a horse.”
Outstanding In Their Fields
The recently concluded Olympics included a few of the more obscure athletic endeavors (such as dressage for horses and steeplechase for people). U.S. colleges compete in even less-heralded sports, such as wood chopping, rock climbing, fishing and broomball. University of Alabama, the 2015 national football champions, also dominates in the 280-school bass-fishing competition. And New York’s Paul Smith College’s 5,000-student campus cheers on its championship log-splitting team against seven other schools. Finally, Ohio State whipped another football powerhouse, Nebraska, in ice-based broomball.
— Steven Scholz was sued for $255,000 in Oregon City, Ore., after he allegedly fired 15 shots into a family’s house, traumatizing the young son inside. Scholz explained that he thought the Biblical Rapture had just occurred and that he was the only survivor.
— Aman Bhatia, 27, was charged with battery and lewd molestation after allegedly groping six women at Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon water park. Bhatia claimed his glasses were broken and he wasn’t aware that women were in his path.
— Claiming he was a “sovereign,” Ryan Bundy (a leader of the Malheur federal land occupation protest in Oregon in January), wrote his judge that he rejects the federal court’s jurisdiction over him in his upcoming trial. However, he said, he would agree to co-operate — provided the government pays him $1 million cash. Bundy (who signs court documents “i; ryan c., man”) said that for that sum, he would act as “defendant” — or, as a bonus, if the judge prefers, as “bailiff,” or even as “judge.” (Bundy’s lawyer, not surprisingly, is Bundy.)
— People with too much money have been reported to have paid enormous sums for “prestige” license plates, usually the lowest-numbered. In China, the number 8 is regarded as lucky. A man identified only as “Liu” obtained Shanghai province’s plate “88888,” for which he paid $149,000. Shanghaiist.com reported in June that “Lucky” Liu was forced into annoying traffic stops by police eight times the first day he used the license plate because police officers were certain it was bogus.
— Greenland’s first “world-class” tourist attraction will offer visitors a “stunning view” of the rapidly melting ice sheets in the area’s 250,000-year-old Jakobshavn Glacier. The United Nations-protected site is promoting a tourist vista that some call “ground zero for climate change.” However, construction is not set to be completed until 2020, and some fear the ice will be completely melted by then.
— In 2005, India enacted a landmark anti-poverty program, obligating the government to furnish 100 days of minimum-wage work to unskilled laborers — potentially, 70 percent of the country’s 1.3 billion people. Programs often fail in India because of rampant corruption. But a recent study by a Cambridge University researcher concluded that the 2005 law is failing for the opposite reason: the anti-corruption measures in the program. Its requirement of extreme transparency has created an exponential increase in paperwork that severely delays placement into a job.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
The Tykables “baby store for adults” has opened in Mt. Prospect, Ill. So far, it has outlasted attempts to shut it down on the grounds that it is inappropriate for the community. Part of the business model is selling adult diapers for medical needs. But a major clientele is adults with a fetish to be treated like helpless babies with diapers, clothing, accessories and oversized high chairs, playpens and cribs. Though the owner controls store access and has blocked out window views, critics say they are uncomfortable explaining the store to their children.
Overenthusiastic Insurance Fraud
A 30-year-old woman, “LTN,” has so far escaped prosecution in Hanoi, Vietnam, because her insurance fraud caper has already cost her a third of both her left hand and left foot. Those are the parts police said she paid a friend $2,000 to chop off so that she could claim a $157,000 disability policy payout, according to an August dispatch by Agence France-Presse.
Husband Who Needs To Believe
Police in Hartselle, Ala., arrested Sarah Shepard for soliciting a hit man to kill her husband, Richard. Police set up an undercover sting, even working with Richard to stage a fake death to convince his wife that the job was completed. Now, Richard is trying to help Sarah. In August, he asked her judge to reduce her bail, on the grounds that he was certain that she had been “entrapped” because, he said, she could hardly manage a grocery list, much less a murder.
The Passing Parade
— A traffic officer in Guelph, Ontario, pulled over a 35-year-old motorist who was traveling 67 mph in a 45-mph zone at night on a stretch with no highway lights. He had no headlights on his vehicle. The driver was given citations even though he pointed out that he was watching the road with a flashlight that was held in place on his head by straps.
— Twenty-three local-government bureaucrats in Boscotrecase, Italy, were disciplined after they were caught shirking their duties — including falsifying the time clock. It was unclear whether the 23 included the two mystery workers who were photographed punching in for work while wearing cardboard boxes on their heads.
— Vegetarian Deb Dusseau of Portland, Maine, celebrating her 10-year anniversary of eating “all vegetables, all the time,” got a tattoo. From wrist to shoulder, her right arm is now adorned with an eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, peas, greens, onions, a radish and tomatoes, all drawn in an “old seed catalog” motif.
— Pro baseball player Brandon Thomas (of the independent Frontier League’s Gateway Grizzlies in St. Louis) hit a bases-loaded home run on Aug. 21. The ball went over the fence and into the adjacent parking lot, where it smashed the windshield of Thomas’ car.
— The British “food artists” Bompas and Parr are staging a tribute to the late writer Roald Dahl by brewing batches of beer using yeast swabbed and cultured from a chair Dahl used.
These Shoes Weren’t Made For Walkin’
The upscale clothier Barneys New York recently introduced $585 “Distressed Superstar Sneakers” (from the high-end brand Golden Goose). They are designed to look scuffed, well worn and cobbled-together, as if they were recovered from a Dumpster. The quintessential touch is the generous use of duct tape on the bottom trim. Critics have accused Barneys of mocking the poor.
Government In Action
— The Drug Enforcement Administration has schemed for several years to pay airline and Amtrak employees for tips on passengers who might be traveling with large sums of cash, so that the DEA can interview them, with an eye toward seizing the cash under federal law if they merely “suspect” that the money is involved in illegal activity. A USA Today investigation, reported in August, revealed that the agency had seized $209 million from 5,200 travelers in a decade. Even if there are no criminal charges, those whose money is taken almost never get it all back. Of 87 recent cash seizures, only two resulted in charges. One Amtrak employee was secretly paid $854,460 over a decade for snitching passenger information to the DEA.
— In August, the Defense Dept.’s inspector general affirmed once again that the agency has little knowledge of where its money goes. This time he admitted that the Dept. of the Army had made $6.5 trillion in accounting “adjustments” out of thin air just to get the books balanced for 2015. In part, the problem was attributed to 16,000 financial data files that disappeared with no trace. “As a result,” reported Fortune magazine, “there has been no way to know how the Defense Department — far and away the biggest chunk of Congress’s annual budget — spends the public’s money.”
— In August, the banking giant Citigroup and the communications giant AT&T agreed to end their two-month-long legal hostilities over AT&T’s right to have a customer service program titled “Thanks.” Citigroup had pointed out that it holds trademarks for the customer service titles “thankyou,” “citi thankyou,” “thankyou from citi” and “thankyou your way.”
— The July 2012 Aurora, Colo., theater shooter James Holmes isn’t wealthy enough to be sued. So 41 victims and their families filed suit against Cinemark Theater for having an unsafe premises. By August 2016, Cinemark had offered $150,000 as a total settlement. Thirty-seven of the 41 accepted, but four held out, since the scaled payout offered only a maximum of $30,000 for the worst-off victims. Following the settlement, the judge, finding that Cinemark could not have anticipated Holmes’s attack, ruled for the theater, making the four holdouts liable under Colorado law for Cinemark’s expenses in defending against the lawsuit: $699,000.
— In August, at a hospital in Shenyang, China, “Wang,” 29, who was awaiting the birth of his child, allowed a nurse to wave him into a room for anesthesia and hemorrhoid surgery — a procedure that took 40 minutes. The hospital quickly offered to pay a settlement, but insisted that, no matter why he was at the hospital, he did in fact have hemorrhoids, and they were removed.
— Evidently, many Chinese wives who suspect their husbands of affairs have difficulty in confronting them. As a result, the profession of “mistress dispellers” has arisen. Their job is to contact the mistress and persuade her, sometimes through an elaborate ruse, to break off the relationship. For a fee, which could be tens of thousands of dollars, the dispeller will subtly infiltrate the mistress’s life and ultimately convince her to move on. A leading dispeller agency in Shanghai, called the “Weiqing International Marriage Hospital Emotion Clinic Group,” served one wife by persuading the mistress to take a higher-paying job in another city.