Alibi V.29 No.7 • Feb 13-19, 2020

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Massachusetts

Last week, a man accidentally killed his neighbor with a crossbow while attempting to save him from a pit bull attack. According to WWLP in Massachusetts, police were called to an apartment for a reported mauling in progress and found two pit bulls engaging in a “volatile confrontation.” The dogs reportedly attacked the officers, who used their department-issued weapons to shoot and kill the animals. While investigating the scene, officers found an unharmed child in an adjacent room and a dead man in the living room. The man had been shot with a crossbow arrow. Investigators say a neighbor heard the attack and called police before entering the apartment with a crossbow, hoping to save the man. The neighbor reportedly shot the crossbow at the dogs, striking one. The arrow passed through the animal, went through a door and then struck the man who had been mauled. The victim was reportedly attempting to barricade himself in a room when the arrow struck him. The DA's office told reporters that the man's death is being treated as an accident and called the neighbor a “ good Samaritan.” State Police crime scene services and forensic scientists assigned to the DA’s Office are currently investigating the police shooting that led to the dogs' deaths along with Adams Animal Control, Adams Police and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Dateline: Germany

An artist used a red wagon full of cell phones to trick Google Maps into reporting traffic jams on empty streets. Vice reports that Berlin artist Simon Weckert recently rented 99 Android smart phone devices and purchased 99 sim cards for them online. He then installed and opened the Google Maps app on each smart phone and loaded the devices into a red wagon. Pulling the wagon behind him, Weckert walked back and forth for an hour or more on empty streets until the app reported a traffic jam in the area. “By transporting the smartphones in the street I’m able to generate virtual traffic which will navigate cars on another route,” Weckert told reporters. “Ironically that can generate a real traffic jam somewhere else in the city.” The artist said he'd produced the installation to point out that virtual spaces aren't actually real. “The map is not the territory,” Weckert said, quoting Alfred Korzybski.“Maps have the potential as an instrument of power. They substitute political and military power in a way that represents the state borders between territories and they can repeat, legitimate, and construct the differences of classes and social self-understandings … data are viewed as the world itself, forgetting that the numbers are only representing a model of the world,” he said.

Dateline: India

Last week, residents of an apartment building in India were shocked when they found a mixture of beer, brandy and rum pouring from their faucets. According to BBC News, brownish drinking water that smelled strongly of alcohol began issuing from the taps of an apartment building in Kerala, India, recently. “The children couldn't go to school and even their parents couldn't go to work,” said Joshy Malyiekkal, owner of the apartment complex. Residents contacted officials asking for help only to discover that a government agency was the behind the contamination. Officials said they'd recently confiscated around 1,585 gallons of illegal alcohol and buried it near the building. The alcohol seeped through the ground and into a well that supplied 18 apartments with water. None of the residents drank the contaminated water, thanks to the smell, but pumping the well clean could take a month to complete. Officials have been supplying residents with about 1,320 gallons of water a day. But residents say the well was their main source of drinking water and the government isn't providing enough for families to drink and bathe.

Dateline: Russia

The Russian Orthodox Church is proposing a new set of guidelines that will bar priests from blessing weapons of mass destruction. Reuters reports that if a document drawn up by an Orthodox Church commission is approved, the longtime practice of blessing military weapons with holy water will be banned. “The blessing of military weapons is not reflected in the tradition of the Orthodox Church and does not correspond to the content of the Rite,” the document's authors wrote. Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly encouraged efforts to connect the church to the nation's military forces, leading to a number of highly publicized incidents of clergy blessing weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear missiles. The new document says this practice contradicts the teachings of the church by sanctifying weapons that can kill an “indefinite number of people.” The church’s Moscow branch is encouraging the public to take part in the debate before officials discuss the issue on June 1. Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, will have the final say in the matter. It's unclear whether he will approve the proposal.

Dateline: Finland

A new study has found that men who own high-status cars are often jerks who drive unethically. Researchers at the University of Helsinki recently published a study in International Journal of Psychology that found that men who drive a high-status car such as an Audi, BMW or Mercedes are much more likely to ignore traffic regulations and drive recklessly. The researchers found that the behavior correlated with personality types rather than level of wealth. According to a press release from the university, owners of these car models are statistically “self-centred men who are argumentative, stubborn, disagreeable and unempathetic.” “Those whose personality was deemed more disagreeable were more drawn to high-status cars,” said author Jan-Erik Lönnqvist, professor of social psychology. “These are people who often see themselves as superior and are keen to display this to others.”

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