Alibi V.28 No.3 • Jan 17-23, 2019 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Nevada

Organizers at a technology conference have been accused of sexism after revoking an industry award from the makers of a robotic sex toy and barring them from showcasing the product. According to The Guardian, adult novelty company Lora DiCarlo was contacted by representatives of the International Consumer Electronics Show, held annually in Las Vegas, and told that their first product, the Osé personal massager, had been chosen as the CES 2019 Innovation Awards honoree in the robotics and drone product category. The massager is a hands-free, female-oriented electronic sex toy that uses “new micro-robotic technology” to mimic human touch. According to the company, the device was developed with the robotics lab at Oregon State University and can replicate sensations associated with the human mouth, tongue and fingers. Around a month after receiving the news, however, the company was contacted by CES administrators, who said the award was being revoked and the company would not be allowed to showcase their product at the event. When company founder Lora Haddock investigated the reason behind the action, she was told that entries “deemed by CTA in their sole discretion to be immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA’s image will be disqualified.” In response, Haddock wrote a statement condemning the administrators' actions as biased by gender. She pointed out that a VR pornography company has been allowed to showcase their products at the event in past years, and a robotic sex doll made to resemble a woman was showcased last year. She argued that the Osé fit perfectly in the robotics and drone category since the device “is the subject of eight pending patents and counting for robotics, biomimicry, and engineering feats.”

Dateline: Russia

The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church recently warned followers that using smartphones could empower the Antichrist and end the world. According to BBC News, Patriarch Kirill told viewers of Russian state television Rossiya 1 that the internet could potentially give someone “an opportunity to gain global control over mankind” He said that the person who will ultimately “be at the head of the worldwide web” would be the Antichrist—a figure Christians believe will appear before the world ends. He told viewers that “every time you use your gadget, whether you like it or not, whether you turn on your location or not, somebody can find out exactly where you are, exactly what your interests are and exactly what you are scared of.” Patriarch Kirill clarified that the church is not against technological progress and science, but “the development of a system that is aimed at controlling a person's identity.” Some critics have accused the religious leader of making the statement to support actions made by the Russian government to restrict citizens' internet access.

Dateline: Washington

Officials in the state of Washington have implemented a plan to discourage the theft of mileposts 69 and 420 along state highways. The Seattle Times reports the Washington Department of Transportation replaced or removed a number of mile marker signs recently in an attempt to curb theft of the expensive items. Some of the signs in question—those designating miles 69 and 420—were changed to designate miles 68.9 and 419.9, respectively. Others were removed completely. Transportation authorities say 608 signs have been replaced since 2012, due to theft, and around 200 are currently missing. They point out that mileposts are crucial to emergency responders who use them to precisely locate those harmed in automobile accidents, and removing them can pose a risk to motorists. The act can also affect taxpayers, since the signs can cost up to $1,000 to replace. According to the Washington State Patrol, stealing a mile marker sign could lead to a misdemeanor theft charge, punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine. It is believed that the signs have been stolen because the number 69 refers to a sexual act, and the number 420 has significance in marijuana culture.

Dateline: California

A surveillance camera installed at a home in Salinas, Calif., caught footage of a man licking a family's doorbell and trespassing on their lawn for hours. According to CBS13 in Sacramento, the homeowners were out of town at the time of the incident, but their children were home sleeping. The prowler reportedly did not disturb anyone in the house during the time he was there, but a security system in the home alerted its owners, who were able to review footage captured by a surveillance camera installed at the front door on their return. The footage showed a man approach the doorbell and begin to lick it aggressively from different angles for several moments. He can also be seen urinating in the front yard. According to the homeowners, the only item the man took was an extension cord which was later found in a neighbor's yard. Thanks to the footage, Salinas police were able to quickly identify the man as Roberto Daniel Arroyo. Authorities say he could face two misdemeanor charges—for petty theft and prowling. The homeowners have allegedly disinfected their doorbell.

Compiled by Joshua Lee. Email your weird news to devin@alibi.com.