10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (7/6/19)
Now that the weekend is here, it is a good opportunity to sit back and wind down with a few odd news stories that you may have missed when they hit the headlines. Click here if you want to catch up on last week’s list.
This week, we aim to expand our cultural horizons a bit by checking out a poop museum. We examine two strange crimes in the form of a serial toilet clogger and a 33,000-year-old cold case. We also point the finger and laugh at a few gaffes committed by organizations that should have known better: A baseball team paid for a memorial tribute for living players, and NASA sold its original lunar landing tapes for a few bucks.
10 Remember The Miracle Mets
The New York Mets had to apologize after staging a reunion and showing a memorial montage which included two players who were still alive.
The Mets don’t have a lot to be cheerful for these days. Their season is going terrible, and the team now has to deal with a pitcher who threatened a reporter. But last Saturday was supposed to be a happy, nostalgia-laced distraction. The New York Mets celebrated 50 years since the 1969 season, when the “Miracle Mets,” as they were dubbed by the press, won the first World Series in franchise history.
In terms of good publicity, this was supposed to be a slam dunk for the organization, but it tripped over its own shoelaces. The ceremony, which was held at Citi Field, featured a tribute to all the players from the 1969 team who have passed away. This included outfielder Jim Gosger and lefty Jesse Hudson, but there was one problem: Both of these men are still alive.
According to the New York Mets, the franchise has reached out to the players to apologize, but Gosger said that he wouldn’t take their phone call.
9 Serial Case In Sheboygan
The Sheboygan serial toilet clogger is finally behind bars. The Wisconsin man received 150 days in jail and three years of probation for five counts of misdemeanor criminal damage to property.
Thirty-five-year-old Patrick D. Beeman will also have to complete 100 hours of community service, stay away from alcohol and drugs, and pay $5,500 in restitution for clogging the women’s toilets in Deland Park and at his workplace. He was initially charged with 12 misdemeanors, but seven of those were dropped, and he received a 30-day sentence for each of the remaining five. Under the Huber program, Beeman will be able to keep his job, as long as he goes back to jail every day after work.
The investigation into Beeman’s bizarre crime spree started in March, when officers found the women’s toilet of the Deland Community Center overflowing after it had been clogged with a water bottle. They went through past complaints and found another ten similar incidents going back to April 2017. Police singled out Beeman as a suspect after he was caught doing the same thing at the company where he worked as a temp.
As far as motive is concerned, the man asked for forgiveness but admitted that he gets urges to do odd things.
8 One Space Agency’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure
A former intern at NASA is set to make a mint after auctioning off tapes with original footage of the Apollo 11 Moon landing that the space agency sold to him decades ago.
As we have mentioned before, NASA has made its fair share of blunders. Among the most boneheaded was losing the original footage of the first time humans have landed on the Moon. Thirty-five years after the Apollo 11 mission, the agency realized that those tapes were missing and concluded that it accidentally reused them during the 1980s.
As it turns out, at least three of those videotapes are still around. NASA didn’t tape over them, but they did sell them to an intern. He held onto them for decades, not really knowing what they contained, and now he is putting them up for auction.
In 1976, Gary George paid $217 for 65 boxes of tapes at a government surplus auction. Now, Sotheby’s estimates that those three videotapes will fetch around $2 million. Appraisers from the auction house deemed the quality “faultless,” as it represents the sharpest footage of the lunar landing ever recorded. It’s a good thing George held onto those tapes at his father’s behest and didn’t resell them like he did with all the other boxes.
7 Magic Mishap In Makhanda
A magician had to be taken to the hospital after a crossbow accident caused him to be struck in the head with an arrow.
Li Lau (left above), who goes by the stage name “One Crazy China,” was performing at the 2019 National Arts Festival in Makhanda, South Africa. Another magician named Brendon Peel (right above) was assisting him. At one point during the act, a crossbow was pointed at Li. It fired prematurely and hit him in the head. The entertainer was rushed to the hospital but only incurred minor injuries.
Although the magicians did not go into detail, they stressed that the trick was designed in such a way that the crossbow could never fire with force. The bolt only caused a cut to the back of Li’s head which required stitches. Even so, the organizers of the show offered trauma counseling to members of the audience.
Although this time, everyone walked away from the mishap mostly unscathed, it was a reminder that magic remains a dangerous art form that can prove fatal. Just two weeks ago, an Indian magician drowned in the Hooghly River while trying to recreate one of Houdini’s most famous tricks.
6 Russia’s Got Talent
A group of Russian factory workers from Yaroslavl have found a novel way of protesting the sanctions placed on them by the US government: with a rap song.
Ilya Bondarenko and his colleagues manufacture car engines at a plant belonging to GAZ Group, the largest private automaker in the country. The company became the target of sanctions in April 2018, due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Now, GAZ is in danger of going bankrupt, leaving many workers fearful for their jobs.
Bondarenko has no interest in getting into the politics of the matter, but he thought that he could use his lifelong love of rap music to show the plight of the ordinary people being affected. He wrote a song to the beat of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” in the mini-studio he has at home. His coworkers enjoyed it, so they performed the track with him and even filmed a music video inside the faltering factory.
5 One Stylish Spider
Five new species of spider were identified by arachnologists in Australia. One of them was named after Karl Lagerfeld, as the researchers felt that the arachnid emulated the fashion designer’s signature look.
All of the new species are tiny jumping spiders about the size of a grain of rice. One was found in New South Wales, while all the others come from Queensland. Among them is the newly named Jotus karllagerfeldi. Its namesake died earlier this year after being the creative director of fashion house Chanel for almost four decades.
Arachnologist Danilo Harms said that the spider instantly reminded them of Karl Lagerfeld. It has large, black eyes similar, to the dark sunglasses that Lagerfeld always wore, while its black and white front legs are reminiscent of the “white detachable collar and black tie” combo that the fashion designer was fond of.
The five new species are added to the roughly 3,500 species of spiders already discovered in Australia. And yet Harms and his colleagues from Monash University estimate that there is double that number of spiders still waiting to be identified.
4 Archaeological Sensation In Iraq
The drought in Iraq caused the water levels to drop in a reservoir in the Kurdistan region, exposing the ruins of a 3,400-year-old palace.
Unsurprisingly, a team of Kurdish and German researchers have already established an impromptu dig site. Archaeologist Hasan Ahmed Qasim calls it “one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the region in recent decades.” The main reason why scholars are so excited is the fact that the palace, known as Kemune, belonged to the Mittani Empire, one of the least-researched civilizations in the region.
It is early, but archaeologists already have a decent idea of what the ancient structure once looked like. It originally stood on an elevated terrace about 20 meters (65 ft) from the river. A wall of mud and bricks was later added to the terrace, which was up to two meters (6.5 ft) thick in some areas.
As for the inside of the palace, some rooms had plastered walls, while others featured wall paintings in shades of red and blue. This is, by itself, an “archaeological sensation,” as this is only the second time we have found surviving wall paintings from the Mittani period.
Researchers recovered ten clay tablets with cuneiform writing and are still waiting on their translation. Kemune was actually first spotted in 2010, but the water levels rose back to normal before anyone could excavate.
3 Poop-Up Museum
The Unko Museum in Yokohama aims to change the way we think about poop. It is the latest target of Japan’s culture of cute, which can be enjoyed in the country’s latest pop-up museum, located about 40 kilometers (25 mi) from Tokyo.
Right off the bat, you will not find any real unko (poop) at the museum. Everything is artificial, colorful, and comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The installations encourage a lot of interaction and are particularly well-suited for social media posts.
The exhibitions include a wall of fake toilets where visitors can pretend to poop as music plays in the background. They can even collect a “poop” souvenir from inside the toilet bowl afterward. An area called “Unstagenic” is filled with colorful lights, props, and signs that are just begging to serve as backdrops for Instagram photos.
In the main hall, there is a large poop-shaped sculpture that erupts with tiny foam unko every half hour. Video games available at the museum include projection-mapped “whack-a-poop” and a football penalty shootout where the player kicks a piece of poo instead of a ball. Of course, at the end, there is a gift shop filled with all sorts of unko mementos.
The museum opened in March and attracted over 100,000 visitors in its first month. It was originally slated to close in August, but its popularity pushed the closing until September.
2 Medical Condition: It’s Complicated
It was a somber moment for the family and friends of Mohammad Furqan as they were saying their goodbyes at his funeral. The 20-year-old Indian man was declared dead on Monday, and they were getting ready to bury him when they noticed movement in his limbs. He was taken back to the hospital, where doctors declared him still alive and put him on ventilator support.
Back in June, Furqan was injured in an accident, and he was admitted to a private hospital unconscious. Recently, his family informed the facility that they would no longer be able to afford his treatment. Soon after that, the hospital declared him dead.
After his “revival” at the funeral, Furqan’s family took him to a different medical institution. While the young man is still in critical condition, his doctor says that he has a working pulse, reflexes, and blood pressure and is “definitely not brain dead.”
Local officials have launched an investigation into the private health care facility that declared Furqan dead after his family stopped paying his bills.
1 The Coldest Case
According to a study published in PLOS One, researchers have enough evidence to conclude that a well-preserved 33,000-year-old European skull belonged to a murder victim.
Back in the 1940s, Romanian miners found a fossilized skull in a cave. It was dated to the Upper Paleolithic and became known as Cioclovina calvaria. Only recently did researchers study it using modern forensic tools, and they concluded that its owner fell victim to foul play.
The skull belonged to an adult male. It had several fractures: two small ones at the front and a large one on the right side. The forensic investigation showed researchers that both injuries occurred around the time of death because neither one had any signs of healing. The heavy blow on the right side was likely inflicted in a face-to-face confrontation by someone swinging a bat-like object either with their left or with both hands.
The injuries were not inflicted postmortem and were not the result of an accident or a fall. It was murder. The fracture on the right side of the head was, likely, the cause of death, but this cannot be ascertained for sure, since only the skull was found.