10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (11/17/18)
With another week in the history books, it’s time to sit back and review some of the stories that made the news over the last few days. Click here if you want to learn all about the major headlines; otherwise read on for unexpected and outlandish stories.
We investigate a few visitors from space which have come in the form of meteorites and weird, flashing lights. There’s also a new neighboring galaxy we discovered on the outskirts of our Milky Way. Besides that, we also talk about drunk raccoons, cat mummies, a fake band, and Fred Flintstone.
10 UFOs Over Ireland
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has been investigating claims of UFOs after multiple pilots reported sightings of strange lights off the coast of County Kerry.
The bizarre occurrences happened last Friday and were evidenced through discussions between airmen and Shannon air traffic control. The first was a pilot from British Airways headed for Heathrow. He contacted air traffic control to inquire if there were any military exercises in the area after seeing a “very bright light” which traveled alongside the plane before veering to the north.
Another pilot from Virgin opined that it could be a meteor. He claimed to have seen “two bright lights” and multiple objects following the same trajectory. A third pilot said that the objects were moving at “astronomical” speeds, reaching Mach 2.
The IAA launched an investigation, but so far, all details are confidential. Experts chimed in and said that the UFOs were, most likely, meteorites that were heated enough to become shooting stars.
9 The Red Light District Takes To The Road
A new study published in the journal Annals of Tourism Research suggests that the rise of driverless cars will lead to more people having sex on the road.
Coauthors Scott Cohen and Debbie Hopkins from the University of Surrey and University of Oxford, respectively, believe that sex in automated vehicles is a “natural conclusion.” Once the costs attached to the driver are eliminated, carmakers will begin focusing on improving passenger experience. Interiors will become more spacious and more luxurious. Standard seating will be replaced by massage chairs or even beds.
With this comes the possibility of hotels-by-the hour on wheels. Besides the obvious possibility of couples engaging in hanky-panky on the road, Cohen and Hopkins believe that automated vehicles will also provide new opportunities for prostitution—a “red light district on the move.” While driverless cars will, undoubtedly, be monitored, the two researchers don’t expect this to be an effective hindrance to curb such illicit behavior.
8 We’re An American Band?
American band Threatin went on a UK tour and played several gigs throughout cities in England. So far, so mundane, you might say, but there is a catch—Threatin doesn’t seem to exist.
At first glance, everything looked legit. The band had almost 40,000 fans on their Facebook page, while front man Jered Threatin (pictured above) had 16,000 followers on social media. They were signed to Superlative Music Recordings, which also had its own website and social media following. The gigs were secured through StageRight Bookings, and the band had already sold hundreds of advance tickets for all of the UK shows. But a curious thing happened when Threatin played at The Exchange in Bristol—nobody showed up. Things went slightly better at their Birmingham show, where they sold one ticket, and reached their peak when they performed at The Underworld in Camden and three people turned up.
A bit of digging revealed that the record label and the promoter were fake. The Facebook fans were, most likely, bought. Threatin managed to book a string of gigs in the UK based on a fan base that didn’t exist.
All of this appears to have been the work of Jered Threatin. Since the story broke, the band’s Facebook page has been deleted and its social media accounts set to private. Remaining gigs in Northern Ireland have been canceled.
The band’s touring members have since revealed that they had been tricked like everyone else. Eventually, Threatin broke his silence and bragged online about how he “turned an empty room into an international headline.”
7 Cat And Beetle Mummies Recovered In Ancient Tomb
The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced last Saturday that archaeologists explored a 4,500-year-old tomb near Cairo and found, among other things, dozens of mummified cats and two mummified scarab beetles
The cats were discovered alongside 100 gilded wooden feline statues and one bronze statue of Bastet, the goddess who was most commonly depicted as a cat. Egyptologists were more excited by the mummified beetles, as they are a much rarer commodity. The two large specimens are preserved in very good condition and were found wrapped in linen inside sarcophagi decorated with scarab drawings.
The discoveries were made in Saqqara, a vast burial ground that once served as the necropolis for Memphis. Nearby, archaeologists found another tomb with its doors still sealed, raising hopes that it has evaded looters. They plan to open and explore it within the coming weeks.
6 Yabba Dabba Don’t
Fred Flintstone was pulled over for speeding in Pasco County, Florida.
Wesley Chapel resident Don Swartz got stopped for speeding inside a residential complex back on November 4 by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PSO). As it happened, Swartz was dressed like Fred Flintstone, and his car was modified to look like Fred’s iconic foot-powered mobile.
A few days later, Swartz was asked to don the Flintstone outfit again and recreate the scene for a photo op. The sheriff’s department posted the images on its Facebook page and joked that Mr. Flintstone became unruly and was detained, while his “footmobile” became part of the PSO fleet.
5 Japan’s Cybersecurity Is In Safe Hands
Politician Yoshitaka Sakurada caused a bit of a stir in Japanese parliament this Wednesday when he admitted that he had never used a computer. On its own, this doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world. Sakurada is 68 years old and has aides and secretaries who can do that for him. However, he is the minister in charge of cybersecurity.
The row started during a lower house session when Sakurada was asked if USB drives were being used at Japanese nuclear facilities. He became confused and admitted to not knowing what a USB drive is and later confessed to avoiding computers altogether.
Unsurprisingly, many political opponents and members of the public were unhappy that the country’s cybersecurity protocols are in the hands of a Luddite. Others, however, joked that Sakurada has the strongest security possible, since you can’t get hacked if you don’t use a computer.
The minister has held this position for a month following a cabinet reshuffling. Recently, he has also been in the news for showing his lack of preparedness for the 2020 Olympic Games, even though he is a board member of the organizing committee. Specifically, he was unaware that there were efforts from the International Olympic Committee to get North Korean athletes into the games or that the North Korean sports minister is due to attend a meeting in Tokyo in a few weeks despite being banned from entering Japan.
4 Fraudsters Fake Fundraiser
The story between homeless man Johnny Bobbitt Jr. and the couple who allegedly raised a fortune for him through donations but then kept most of the money took an unexpected turn—all three of them are now being accused of conspiring together.
These kinds of tales about random acts of kindness tend to go viral, particularly when the do-gooder happens to be someone down on their luck. Usually, it’s not long until someone else starts an online fundraiser for them to reward their kindness. In most cases, these efforts are genuine attempts to help, but not this time. Couple Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure alongside Johnny Bobbitt are facing charges including conspiracy and theft by deception for making up a fake sob story to obtain donations through GoFundMe.
The trio’s tale became popular last year when McClure posted a photo with Bobbitt on her social media. She claimed the benevolent homeless man gave her $20 when her car ran out of gas on the I-95 in Philadelphia. She then set up a fundraiser page for her Good Samaritan. Around 14,000 people donated over $400,000.
Since then, the situation between the two parties has gotten ugly. Bobbitt sued the couple for mismanagement of funds, claiming they’ve been using his fundraiser as their “personal piggy bank.” D’Amico and McClure claimed Bobbitt misused the money they gave him, such as by spending it on drugs. An investigation was launched, and it revealed that the three of them made up the original viral story in order to defraud funds out of caring strangers.
3 One Crab Apple Too Many
A group of raccoons in a small West Virginia town caused quite a scare for the locals after reports emerged that they were rabid. As it turns out, they were just drunk on fermented crab apples.
Last week, the Milton Police Department received two calls about raccoons with rabies prowling around town. People were instructed to be on the lookout but to avoid contact with the animals. Last Sunday, authorities managed to capture one raccoon, which they named Dallas. It appeared to be disoriented and staggering, but it wasn’t rabid. It had actually gotten drunk from eating too many fermented crab apples.
Another two “trash pandas” were captured later. They were allowed to sober up and then released back into the woods. Subsequently, a Milton PD representative said two of the raccoons showed signs of extreme lethargy and might have been suffering from distemper all along. Only Dallas made a clean getaway and is believed to have been initially inebriated.
2 Impact Crater Under The Ice
An international team of scientists has found a giant impact crater caused by a meteorite 1.6 kilometers (1 mi) in diameter buried under more than 800 meters (2,600 ft) of ice in Greenland.
The crater itself is roughly 300 meters (1,000 ft) deep and 31 kilometers (19 mi) wide. This puts it among the 25 largest known craters on our planet, and it is the first to be found beneath Greenland’s ice sheet. It was created when a giant space rock crashed into Earth with the energy of 47 million Little Boy nuclear bombs.
The crater was first spotted by Danish researchers from the University of Copenhagen going through data collected by NASA during Operation IceBridge. Timely, they had access to new ice-penetrating radar made available by the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany and confirmed the find.
The biggest unanswered question remaining regards the age of the crater. So far, we only know that it is not older than three million years, but it could have been created as recently as 12,000 years ago.
1 A Ghost Galaxy Is Next To Us
Astronomers have discovered a mysterious “ghost” galaxy lurking outside the Milky Way.
The discovery was made thanks to data from the Gaia satellite and was named Antlia 2 (or Ant 2). The reason why we haven’t noticed another galaxy next to us until now is because Ant 2 is incredibly dim and has a very low mass. It is roughly 7,000 light-years in diameter, the same as the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), another one of our satellite galaxies. Yet it is 10,000 times dimmer. That is why lead author Gabriel Torrealba called it a “ghost of a galaxy.” To add to this, Ant 2 was also sitting behind the Milky Way’s bright disk, so it picked the perfect “hiding spot” to evade detection.
Scientists believe the galaxy’s low density comes from being torn apart by the Milky Way’s gravitational field. However, that doesn’t really explain why it retained its large size, as galaxies tend to shrink when they lose mass, but Ant 2 grew.
Compared to the other 60 or so satellites of our galaxy, Ant 2 is definitely an “oddball,” as coauthor Matthew Walker put it, but it could open a whole new door for us. Since it is unlike anything we’ve found before, scientists are wondering if these kinds of “ghost” galaxies aren’t all around the Milky Way. They are hopeful that studying Ant 2 more in depth will yield some answers.