Alibi V.29 No.12 • March 19-25, 2020 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Florida

A gang of wild ducks continues to terrorize visitors of a pool at a Florida college—even befriending a fake alligator head that was meant to frighten them away. Students have responded by introducing their own gang of rubber ducks to the pool. According to News 4 JAX in Florida, unknown pranksters recently left a number of rubber ducks at the Flagler College pool, presumably to mock staff attempts to fend off an intruding pair of wild ducks. Last month, the college sent a letter to students, explaining why they would be seeing a rubber alligator head floating in the school pool. “We have two ducks that have found our pool very inviting,” the letter reads. “Ducks make a mess of the water and pool area so we are testing different methods to make our pool less inviting. We have an owl decoy as a bird of prey sitting on the edge of the pool. The ducks seem to have adopted him, so we now have a floating alligator head. Hopefully this will make them nervous and motivate them to find another home. Please keep the alligator head in the pool so we can see if it is effective. Thank you for your cooperation.” According to reports, the ducks returned to the pool only hours after the email was sent. In a video taken by one eyewitness, one duck can be seen swimming in the pool near the fake alligator head. Last week, unnamed students contributed to the effort by releasing a number of rubber ducks into the pool—possibly in an attempt to intimidate the trespassing waterfowl. An anonymous whistleblower told reporters that the “duck event” was organized on Facebook. The idea to leave a group of rubber ducks at the pool was allegedly chosen over an alternate suggestion to introduce more live ducks.

Dateline: France

Due to the proliferation of an internet rumor, French health authorities publicly announced that using cocaine will not protect people from COVID-19. According to the Daily Mirror, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in France posted on Twitter, saying: “No, cocaine does not protect against COVID-19. It is an addictive drug that causes serious side effects and is harmful to people’s health.” The agency was forced to respond after rumors circulated for weeks on various social media platforms claiming the contrary. The rumors seem to have started as a joke on social media. Influencers like The Brian Jonestown Massacre singer Anton Newcombe helped spread altered images that appeared to be screen-captured photos of news headlines proclaiming: “Cocaine Kills Coronavirus” on their social media accounts. It is unclear whether any users believed the posts were real, but the French government presumably took the joke seriously. Users on various social media platforms have also claimed that drinking bleach can cure the novel coronavirus. The US Food and Drug Administration says drinking bleach will not cure carriers of the virus and could have serious health consequences, including “severe vomiting, severe diarrhea [and] life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration and acute liver failure.”

Dateline: Florida

Last month, a number of Florida middle school students were injured when a student mistook a can of pepper spray for body spray and used it in an enclosed gymnasium. According to First Coast News, a 7th-grade student from Highlands Middle School in Jacksonville, Fla. accidentally discharged the weapon while attending a physical education class. According to a spokesperson for Duval County Public Schools, the student noticed a canister of pepper spray among the belongings of his classmate and—believing the can to be deodorizing body spray—sprayed himself “as if he were applying a body fragrance product.” The gym was immediately evacuated and 41 students were taken to five hospitals for the treatment of minor injuries. DCPS said that for the student who discharged the canister, “the investigation revealed that there was no intention to disrupt school, and therefore, there is no basis for more serious charges.” However, school police issued a civil citation to the student who brought the the weapon to school. Leaders say it is against school policy to carry pepper spray while on campus. “We take it very seriously, but we’re also … dealing with students here,” School Police Department Director Michael Edwards said in a news conference.

Dateline: Belgium

Scientists have discovered a way to make butter using insect fat instead of milk. According to CBC, researchers at Ghent University in Belgium are replacing butter with larva fat in waffles, cakes and cookies in an attempt to find a more sustainable alternative to traditional butter. To make the bug butter, scientists soak black soldier fly larvae in a bowl of water, liquefy the mixture in a blender and separate out the butter using a kitchen centrifuge. After experimenting with using different volumes of the bug butter in baked goods, the researchers say consumers notice no difference when a quarter of the milk butter in a cake is replaced with larva fat. But they did report noticing an unpleasant taste when the ratio reached 50-50. Daylan Tzompa Sosa, the head reseracher on the project, says the insect butter is better for the environment than cow butter, “because [insects] use less land [than cattle], they are more efficient at converting feed ... and they also use less water to produce butter.” Insect-based foods are also known to have high levels of protein, vitamins, fiber and minerals.

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