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 V.17 No.44 | October 30 - November 5, 2008 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Japan—A 43-year-old woman in southern Miyazaki was arrested after killing her virtual husband in an interactive online videogame. The woman, who is jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, said she was so upset over an unexpected divorce from her online husband that she “killed” his digital persona. “I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning,” the unidentified woman told reporters. “That made me so angry.” The death occurred in the MMORPG MapleStory, in which players use digital “avatars” to interact with one another, engaging in relationships, social activities and combating monsters. The woman used login information she got from the 33-year-old male office worker whose avatar was married to hers to kill off his character. The man complained to police when he discovered his beloved online avatar was dead. The woman was arrested last Wednesday and detained in Sapporo, where the man lives, on suspicion of hacking. She could face a prison term of up to five years or a fine up to $5,000. Police said they did not know if the woman was married in real life.

Dateline: Iran—A bid to enter the Guinness World Records book for the largest sandwich failed after hungry onlookers rushed forward and devoured the giant snack before it was officially measured. Event organizers stuffed the nearly 5,000-foot-long sandwich with 1,500 pounds of ostrich meat and 1,500 pounds of chicken and displayed it in a park in Tehran, the country’s capital. As the sandwich was being measured, however, the crowd surged forward and gobbled up all evidence of the tasty feat. One of the event’s organizers, Parvin Shariati, said video footage of the sandwich would be sent to Guinness officials anyway. “We still think the sandwich will be recorded in the Guinness book because of all the evidence and footage we will send them,” Shariati told reporters.

“You’ve got the receivers of the stolen sand, or what we believe to be sand. The trucks themselves, the organizers and, of course, there is some suspicion that some police were in collusion with the movers of the sand.”

Mark Shields, Jamaica Constabulary Force

Dateline: The Netherlands—A Dutch court convicted two teenagers of stealing virtual items in a computer game and sentenced them to community service. The Leeuwarden District Court says the culprits, ages 15 and 14, coerced a 13-year-old boy into transferring a “virtual amulet and a virtual mask” from the online adventure game RuneScape to their game accounts. “These virtual goods are goods [under Dutch law], so this is theft,” the court said last week in a summary of its ruling. Identities of the minors were not released. The 15-year-old was sentenced to 200 hours community service, while the 14-year-old got 160 hours.

Dateline: England—A costume shop worker from Newbury said his boss sent him on a 12,285-mile trek dressed in a Smurf outfit as a promotion to help unload excess character costumes. Ian Thompkins, 25, was only able to remove his Smurf costume for sleep while on his three-week, round-the-world journey, England’s Daily Telegraph reports. Thompkins’ boss at the costume shop Jokers’ Masquerade, Mark Lewis, said he came up with the stunt after discovering the Chinese manufacturer of the familiar blue costumes wouldn’t sell them to his shop in quantities of less than 500. “When Mr. Lewis first suggested the idea, I thought it was great—I was going to see some countries I had never been to before and all I had to do was wear the costume,” Thompkins told the newspaper. “But it was one thing to suggest the idea and another to stand in front of these famous monuments wearing it.” Lewis said the trip cost about $6,000 but sparked a surge of business that has led the shop to order thousands more costumes from its supplier.

Dateline: Jamaica—Island police are puzzled over the apparent theft of an entire beach on Jamaica’s north coast. An estimated 500 truckloads of sand have been removed from a planned resort at Coral Springs beach, reports the BBC. Detectives say rivals in the tourism sector could be responsible, because a good beach is a valuable asset to hotels in the popular Caribbean tourist destination. The beach at Coral Springs, in Jamaica’s northern parish of Trelawny, was 1,300 feet of white sand. The theft has led developers to put their future plans on hold. In the three months since the theft was discovered, no arrests or charges have been made in the case, causing some members of the People’s National Pary to suggest there is a cover-up. “It’s a very complex investigation because it involves so many aspects,” deputy commissioner for crime at the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Mark Shields, said. “You’ve got the receivers of the stolen sand, or what we believe to be sand. The trucks themselves, the organizers and, of course, there is some suspicion that some police were in collusion with the movers of the sand.” Police said they were carrying out forensic tests on beaches along the coast to see if any of it matches the stolen sand.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

 

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