Australian aviator David Mayman has promised investors that his jet packs will hit the market by mid-2017. Early clients will pay $250,000 for one. The device is said to fly a person at up to 60 mph for 10 minutes. The JB-10 (developed by Mayman and designer Nelson Tyler) has made 400 test runs in Monaco and over downtown London and New York City. The partners realize that the ultimate success of the device will require that the fuel tanks be downsized so that the craft can be powered electrically. They are seeking crowdfunding both for the electrical model and a larger model that will accommodate the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command tactical needs.
Baking Soda Can Hurt You Too
Almost all law enforcement agencies in America use the Scott Reagent field test when they discover powder that looks like cocaine. But some agencies say tests for false positives occur up to half the time. In October, the latest victims (husband-and-wife truck drivers with spotless records and Pentagon clearances) were finally released after 75 days in jail awaiting trial. They had been found with baking soda that tested positive three times by Arkansas troopers. Eventually it tested negative with a state crime lab. The truck drivers had to struggle to get their truck back. They are still fighting to regain their clearance to drive military explosives.
Groundbreaking Legal Work
In October, a court in Australia’s Victoria state began considering an appeal about whether three deaf people might be too intellectually challenged to have planned a murder. The prosecutor offered surveillance video of the three in a lobby planning the murder’s details via sign language as they waited for an elevator to take them up to the crime scene.
The Upbeat Pig
Pigs are such complex animals that scientists are studying ways to distinguish the “optimist” pigs from the “pessimists.” British researchers writing in a recent Biology Letters described how “proactive” porkers differed from “reactive” ones, and how their particular mood at a given time distinguished them from glass-half-full pigs rather than glass-half-empty.
In Tokyo, in November, architects said they were moving ahead with proposals for “Next Tokyo 2045.” Proposals include a one-mile-high residential complex; that’s twice as tall as the highest skyscraper. A spokesperson for principal architects, Kohn Pedersen Fox said he realizes that coastal Tokyo, currently in earthquake, typhoon and tsunami zones, would present a climate-change challenge to the building, especially since the building would be on land once reclaimed from Tokyo Bay.
— San Diego police officer Christine Garcia, who identifies herself as transgender, was turned away in November as she attempted to enter the Transgender Day of Remembrance at the city’s LGBT Community Center. Organizers thought the sight of a police uniform might upset some people. Garcia herself was one of the event’s organizers.
— Gary Zerola was arraigned in Boston in November on two counts of rape. He is a defense lawyer, former prosecutor, one-time “Most Eligible Bachelor” winner and finalist in the first season of ABC’s The Bachelor. He was also accused of two counts of rape in 2006 (but acquitted at trial) and another in 2007 (but the charge was dropped).
How to Tell If You’re Too Drunk
— On Nov. 16, Richard Rusin, 34, was charged with DUI in St. Charles, Ill., after he drove off a street; went airborne; hit the top of one house; rebounded off another; uprooted a tree (sending it onto a roof); and knocked out electricity to the neighborhood when the car clipped a utility pole guide wire. His car landed upside-down in a driveway.
— Allen Johnson, Sr., of Meriden, Conn., was driving a tractor-trailer up Interstate 89 near Williston, Vt., on Nov. 2 at 63 mph, when, said state police, he apparently tried to stand up in the cab in order to change pants. By so doing, he enabled the rig to roll over. Johnson registered a .209 blood-alcohol level. It was 9:30 am.
Cliché Come to Life
The Kerry, Ireland, county council recently voted in to let some people drive drunk. The councilors reasoned that in the county’s isolated regions, some seniors live alone and need the camaraderie of the pub, but fear a DUI arrest on the way home. The councilors thus empowered police to issue DUI permits to those drivers. Besides, they reasoned, the area is so sparsely populated that some drivers never encounter anyone else on the road at night. Coincidentally — or not — “several” of the five councilors voting yes own pubs.
The Slapping News
In St. Paul, Minn., a 25-year-old woman told police on Nov. 3 that she was involuntarily roughed up several hours after being voluntarily roughed up at Arnellia’s Bar’s weekly “Smack Fest,” in which female patrons competitively slap each other’s faces for three rounds under strict house rules. The woman said she spoke amicably with her opponent. But at closing time, the opponent and several friends, including men, punched and kicked her outside the bar. In other slapping news, a 71-year-old woman died in Lewes, England, in November while participating in a Chinese healing seminar that emphasizes being slapped repeatedly to rid the body of poisoned blood and toxins. The “healer,” Hongshi Xiao, charges clients $900 each.
In November, in a remote area of Oregon’s Maury Mountains, a 69-year-old man killed an elk and dragged the carcass behind his off-road vehicle up a hill. According to the Crook County Sheriff’s office, the vehicle suddenly flipped over backward, and the man landed on, and was impaled by, the elk’s antlers. Fellow hunters summoned a helicopter, and the man survived.
The state agency Colorado Parks and Wildlife filed 21 criminal charges against the Squirrel Creek Wildlife Rescue center in Littleton, alleging that some of the orphaned animals at Kendall Seifert houses aren’t being kept according to the state’s strict standards. Charges also allege that Seifert’s 15-year-old center is home to a popular swingers’ club — the Scarlet Ranch. One of the criminal charges suggests that rescue animals could be stressed by gazing at activity in the ranch’s bar area. Seifert said he will challenge the charges out of fear that many of the raccoons, foxes, song birds, coyotes, skunks, rabbits and squirrels he would have to relinquish would not find suitable facilities elsewhere.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
In a retail market long dominated by priests, nonsectarian funeral eulogizers now offer to give individually tailored speeches about the deceased for a fee. A New York Post reporter interviewed two local “celebrants,” who cited the declining appeal of “prayers.”
San Francisco State Univ. researchers revealed that no fungi or fecal bacteria were found on the seats of the city’s bus line or rapid transit trains, but that a “rare” and “unusual” strain, called Pigmentiphaga, was found. The strain was previously associated only with South Korean wastewater and the South China Sea. The city’s Dept. of Health said, of course, not to worry.
Kristi Goss, 43, an assistant to a Garland County, Ark., judge, was arrested and charged with stealing nearly $200,000 in public funds, which she used to buy such things as a tuxedo for her dog, sequined throw pillows, a “diamond bracelet” (retailing for $128) and, of course, Arkansas Razorback football tickets.
The Passing Parade
The tardigrade is perhaps the sturdiest animal on Earth, able to endure otherwise fatal living conditions. It is known to be composed of DNA not seen elsewhere. A Japanese company recently began selling an oversized toy plushie tardigrade whose authentic depiction of the creature has been verified by the leading tardigrade authority, professor Kazuharu Arakawa of Keio University.