Alibi V.28 No.39 • Sept 26-Oct 2, 2019 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Washington

A web developer asked men to send her pictures of their penises to help develop an AI system that recognizes when a user has received an unwanted photo of male genitals. The Guardian reports that Kelsey Bressler found an unwanted photo of a penis in the direct messaging service of her Twitter account earlier this month and decided to do something about it. To that end, Bressler and a friend developed an AI filter that can detect images of male genitalia in a user's DMs and delete them before they are seen. “When you receive a photo unsolicited it feels disrespectful and violating,” Bressler told BBC News. “It's the virtual equivalent of flashing someone in the street. You're not giving them a chance to consent, you are forcing the image on them, and that is never OK … If this tech could be created in a couple of days, I'm not sure why tech companies have not led similar initiatives.” To test the filter, Bressler tweeted: “I'm soliciting dick pics at the handle @showyodiq … consensual, human dicks only please.” The team reportedly received a large number of penis images—so many that the inbox had to be closed. Initial tests of the AI proved successful. Only two images slipped past the filter: One depicting a man wearing a cage over his genitalia and one depicting a penis covered in purple glitter. “Cyberflashing” is not illegal in the US, but some states have instituted or introduced laws related to the act.

Dateline: Canada

A Canadian man was fined for trying to fight a grizzly bear. According to Airdrie Today, Devin Mitsuing was charged with harassing the protected animal earlier this month. The case dates back to 2015, when British Columbia photographer Thomas Murray O'Neill was taking photographs of the bear in Banff National Park. O'Neill told authorities that during the photo session, he saw a red truck pull off of the highway before seeing two men get out. The men allegedly began yelling at the bear and throwing rocks before one took his shirt off and “got in a boxing stance.” The man allegedly ran at the grizzly bear, startling it enough to run into the nearby forest. The man was later identified as Mitsuing, thanks to photos taken by O'Neill, who claimed Mitsuing appeared inebriated at the time. Authorities were notified, and found that officers had already caught up with the two men at Radium Hot Springs, where a separate and unrelated incident had resulted in police impounding the truck. The men were dropped off at a local hotel by officers. The next morning, Park Warden Paul Friesen took an audio statement from Mitsuing at the hotel. The man claimed he was only trying to get a photo of the bear. In the recording, Mitsuing can be heard asking where he is. When Friesen tells him he's in British Columbia, Mitsuing swears. A judge found the man guilty of disturbing a protected bear and imposed a $4,000 fine.

Dateline: Australia

A fire at a cattle breeding facility in Australia caused an explosion that destroyed at least 100 cryogenic cylinders of cow semen and sent firefighters defending against “projectiles.” ABC News in Australia reports that the fire broke out early morning last week at a Yarram Herd Services storage facility. The company provides artificial insemination services, breeding advice, herd testing, calf dehorning and freeze-branding services to cattle farmers. The site was home to an expensive collection of cryogenic cylinders of bull semen. “The actual cylinders are worth between $500 and $1,000 per unit but the semen inside them varies in price, said Yarram committee vice chairman Aaron Thomas. When emergency crews arrived, the building was completely engulfed in flames. Country Fire Authority Gippsland commander, Chris Loeschenkohl, told reporters, “The liquid inside the cylinders was rapidly expanding and essentially the lids of the cryogenic cylinders were just popping off the top and projectiles were being thrown from the building.” It reportedly took 10 fire crews more than two hours to douse the fire. According to Thomas, 100 cylinders were destroyed in the explosion. “We're coming into the AI season so there would have been substantial amounts of semen inside the tanks that we've lost,” he told reporters. Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.

Dateline: Russia

A shaman who vowed to drive Putin and “demonic forces” from the Kremlin was detained by Siberian authorities last week. According to The New York Times, officials claim Siberian shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev is wanted for committing an unnamed crime in his home region. But some have questioned if his arrest had political motivations. Gabyshev is reportedly a popular shaman, and his supporters regularly post his whereabouts on YouTube. In March, the spiritual leader set off on foot from Siberia with the goal of removing Vladimir Putin—whom Gabyshev called the “demon of fear”—from the Kremlin, presumably with magic. In an interview, Gabyshev told reporters that God told him to go to Moscow and “cast out the Devil.” He claimed that Putin was not a human being, but a “beast.” As the shaman's journey wore on, a group of people gathered and began to travel with him. In the city of Ulan-Ude, in August, security forces arrested several of his followers. Gabyshev himself was arrested at a campsite in eastern Siberia last week.

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