Alibi V.28 No.9 • Feb 28-March 6, 2019 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: France

Lightsaber dueling has been officially recognized as a sport by the French Fencing Federation. The Washington Post reports the federation now considers lightsaber dueling on par with the more traditional disciplines of épée, foil and saber. The “weapons” used in the sport are non-lethal replicas of those used in the Star Wars film franchise that are made from a rigid polycarbonate and outfitted with LED lights and sound effects. Organized lightsaber dueling tournaments have become more popular in recent years, bringing the sport to the attention of the French Fencing Federation and world media. During a duel, participants attempt to strike each other for points—a strike to the head receives five points while those to the limbs receive three. The first duelist to score 15 points, or whoever has the highest score at the end of 3 minutes, is the winner. To make the duels appear more like the ones seen in the Star Wars films, fighters are required to point the tips of their lightsabers behind them before attempting a strike. The International Fencing Federation, a worldwide governing organization for the sport, told reporters that it would be closely watching the trend and its developments. Authorities with the French Fencing Federation say they hope the new sport will attract young people and encourage them to be more active.

Dateline: South Carolina

A man came home last week to find a stranger and her two children had moved into his house. According to Fox Carolina, Kent Foster attempted to enter his Union, S.C., home last week, but was blocked by an object that had been pushed against the door. He told police that he managed to get the door opened and heard people inside before calling 911. When authorities arrived at the house, they allegedly found Savannah Rhinehart and her two children, one of whom was not wearing pants. According to police she claimed to be the owner of the home. Foster said the woman and her children were wearing his family's clothes. “When she opens the door, the first thing she says is, 'Can I help you?' ” he told reporters. “Yeah, the first thing you can do is leave my house.” A witness told police they had seen one of the children outside with no clothes on earlier. Foster reportedly discovered that someone had used their bathtub and eaten his family's food. Police were unable to ascertain Rhinehart's reason for breaking into the home, and she was taken to a hospital to be evaluated for mental illness. The state's Department of Social Services placed her two children in protective custody. She has been charged with child neglect, burglary and petit larceny.

Dateline: China

Researchers have created a “rat cyborg” that people can control with their minds. Discover Magazine reports a group of scientists from Zhejiang University in China published a paper in the journal Scientific Reports earlier this month titled “Human Mind Control of Rat Cyborg’s Continuous Locomotion with Wireless Brain-to-Brain Interface.” According to the paper, the researchers surgically implanted two microelectrodes into the brains of rats for virtual reward stimulation and instruction of forward motion. Two more microelectodes were implanted into the sides of the rats' heads to stimulate turning cues. The rats were then trained to react to instructions given through wireless signals sent directly to a microstimulator mounted on the rat’s back with a computer program. Once the rats had been sufficiently trained, their microstimulators were set to receive signals from a noninvasive EEG-based brain-machine interface (BMI) that was attached externally to human subjects. The humans could then control the rats with wireless instructions—thinking about moving the right or left arm would send the rats moving in the corresponding direction, while blinking would direct the rats to move forward. Using the interface, human controllers were able to successfully direct a number of rats through a series of increasingly difficult mazes. Researchers said two of the rat cyborgs performed flawlessly.

Dateline: Pennsylvania

A group of real estate investors barely avoided physical harm last month when they discovered an elaborate booby trap in an abandoned Philadelphia home. According to NBC News, a team of real estate investors were walking a distressed property they had purchased when they reportedly came across what appeared to be a trap laid by the previous owner. Ekrem Uysaler told reporters he was one of five people who made the terrifying discovery. Uysaler's ABC Capital Investments purchases abandoned and foreclosed homes, renovates them and places them on the market again. He told reporters that while he's found homes in serious disrepair, this was the first time he'd encountered a booby trap. According to reports, a line of string was installed four inches above and parallel to a step on a staircase inside the home. If triggered the string would have released a crutch with a knife attached to one end that would have swung down and stabbed a victim in the face. “Whoever did this was a genius, like Stewie,” Uysaler told reporters, referring to a character from Family Guy. No one was harmed during the incident. ABC Capital Investments has confirmed that it will be going forward with renovations on the house. The booby trap has presumably been removed.

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