Alibi V.26 No.13 • March 30-April 5, 2017 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: China

A public park in Beijing is trying to prevent visitors from using too much toilet paper in its bathrooms by installing facial recognition technology in the TP dispensers. According to an article in the New York Times, all toilet paper at the Temple of Heaven Park is locked inside six machines that requite visitors to stare into a computer mounted to a wall for three seconds before precisely two feet of toilet paper is ejected. If the same visitor requires more paper, they will have to wait nine minutes for the machine to reset. “The people who steal toilet paper are greedy,” 19-year-old He Zhiqiang, a customer service worker from the northwestern region of Ningxia, told the Times. “Toilet paper is a public resource. We need to prevent waste.” According to a China Radio International report, the Temple of Heaven Park has provided toilet paper in its public toilets for the last 10 years, but has seen supplies exhausted much quicker lately. A manager for the park speculated that most of the thieves were locals, rather than tourists, coming to the park to stock up on their daily supply of TP. Workers say the high-tech dispensers are being tested on a trial basis.

Dateline: India

Farmers in Northern India are having increasing difficulty protecting their opium crops from drug-addicted parrots. According to the UK’s Mirror newspaper, the birds have learned to wait until the poppy plants’ morphine-rich area is exposed by workers slitting open the flowers’ pods to help them ripen. The birds swoop out of nearby trees and nibble off the stalks below the pods. Video shows the birds retreating to high branches where they consume the flowers. The drugs put the parrots to sleep for hours and even cause them to fall out of the trees to their deaths. Farmers say their dopey states also make the birds more susceptible to predators. The drug-stealing birds were first reported in Chittorgarh in the state of Rajasthan in 2015, but this year it has reportedly spread 40 miles away to Neemach in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Farmers say they are now getting warnings from the government’s narcotics department—which controls opium farming—over their reduced yields. Sobharam Rathod, an opium farmer from Neemach, estimated parrots steal around 10 percent of his crop. “Usually the parrots would make sound when in a group. But these birds have become so smart that they don’t make any noise when they swoop on the fields,” Rathod told reporters. “We have tried every trick possible to keep the birds at bay, but these addicts keep coming back even at the risk of their life.”

Dateline: Texas

A grand jury in Dallas has decided that a GIF can be used as a deadly weapon. The US Department of Justice and the grand jury issued indictments on Monday, March 20, against John Rayne Rivello, who is accused of intentionally tweeting a Graphic Interchange Format (GIF) animation to Newsweek journalist Kurt Eichenwald. Eichenwald has epilepsy, and the flashing GIF was designed to give him a seizure. The grand jury indictment refers to the GIF as “a deadly weapon,” equal in the eyes of the law to a gun or a knife. According to the Department of Justice complaint against Rivello, he sent messages to his friends after tweeting the seizure-inducing GIF to Eichenwald. One of the messages read, “I hope this sends him into a seizure.” Another read, “Spammed this at [Eichenwald] let’s see if he dies.” Rivello, a 29-year-old Trump supporter from Salisbury, Md., is being charged under federal cyberstalking law. The charge could carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Dateline: Ohio

Staff at the Avon Lake Public Library are turning to the public for help in solving a baffling mystery. According to a post on the library’s Facebook page, “Since January we have been finding empty, clean, A1 Steak Sauce bottles (just a hint of the sauce odor inside) hidden behind books, magazines and newspapers.” The post wondered if the strange influx of dark brown bottles might be “a geocaching thing” but asked if the public had “any ideas.” Some 30 of the 10-ounce bottles have been uncovered since the beginning of this year. Most have been located by the library’s security guards and pages. “We mapped the first 12 to see if we could find a pattern, but we couldn’t find a discernible pattern,” the library’s page supervisor, Dan Cotton, told The Chronicle-Telegram. So far, Facebook followers have suggested everything from “dragon magic” to “a book worm in the restaurant industry.”

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