Odds & Ends

Odds & Ends

Devin D. O'Leary
4 min read
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Dateline: China

China’s notoriously hard-nosed media regulation agency issued an edict last month banning the use of puns in advertising and media, warning that puns “create misunderstandings for the public, especially for minors” and can lead to “cultural and linguistic chaos.” Language Log, a blog maintained by the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania, noted that puns are an intrinsic part of China’s linguistic culture. “Because of the huge number of homophones in the language, punning is super easy in Mandarin, and Chinese is extremely fond of engaging in this type of verbal play.” Worldwide media ran with the story, crafting such sure-to-be-banned-in-China headlines as “Nowhere to Pun Amid China Crackdown” (
Wall Street Journal), “China Bans Puns; Citizens Left Dis-Oriented” (Mediaite) and “China Pun-ishes Its Citizens With Nationwide Pun Ban” (Colorado’s Rooster).

Dateline: China

Police say they have recovered a gold-and-diamond-encrusted phone worth more than $110,000 after it was lost by its owner at an airport. Investigators said the owner of the gold Vertu phone covered with more than 800 diamonds told police he lost the valuable item while rescheduling a flight at an airport in Wenzhou. Police reviewed security footage from the airport and spotted a woman picking up the phone. She was located in a nearby village. The phone, estimated to be worth 680,000 yuan ($110,533), was returned to its owner.

Dateline: England

Is there a coverup going on at a British elementary school, or are children actually safe from rampaging squirrels in Old Blighty? On Nov. 25 the
Watford Observer reported that an “unusually aggressive” gray squirrel had appeared at the Chater Infant School, terrifying children and forcing teachers to evacuate the playground. One member of the staff was even reported to have been scratched by the unruly beast. Not to be outdone in the journalistic field, the Evening Standard also reported on the event, citing head teacher Amrit Bal-Richards. “We did have an incident where we had a squirrel,” Bal-Richards was quoted as saying. “We talked to the children at an assembly the following day to say sometimes animals can be aggressive and a bit tempered and what to do if it happens.” The primary school, however, responded with a post on its own website, saying that “there is no substance to this article, it is poorly written and greatly exaggerates an occurrence in the playground.” Administrators admitted they “did have a curious and bold squirrel in the playground during Golden Time a few weeks ago,” but assured parents the animal did not cause any havoc or terrify the children.

Dateline: Texas

The owner of three Pit Bulls and a Pit-Bull mix is suing her neighbor for $1 million in damages after her dogs attacked and killed a neighbor’s pet. The head-scratching lawsuit comes from Emerald White, who says her four dogs escaped from her house and broke into a neighbor’s yard in the Houston suburb of Texas City. White says she was trying to retrieve her dogs when a 10-year-old Beagle came at her, causing her dogs to attack it. White’s lawsuit said her neighbors were negligent and that she suffered mental anguish, disfigurement, pain, loss of earnings and a “fear of future disease,” thanks to the dead Beagle. “I’m getting the hate mail and the death threats,” White’s attorney, Paul LaValle, told KHOU-TV. “They have a very good PR campaign working for the family that owned the Beagle.” The Beagle’s owners, Steve and Tiffany Baker, said they would not be suing White, since it would not bring their dead pet back. “The police took the action I wanted and declared those dogs dangerous and awareness was raised; so I decided to let it go,” Steve Baker told
Galveston Daily News. “Now they’re suing me for $1 million. I just can’t believe it.”

Dateline: Indiana

A mother called police in Indianapolis to report that her 9-year-old daughter had just punched her 6-year-old sister. The 9-year-old was arrested and charged with battery. The girls’ mother, Andrea Stumpf, filmed the incident—rather than stopping it, apparently—and showed it to the responding officer. An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson told FOX-59 News “the officer made the decision to arrest” the 9-year-old. The girl was taken to the Marion County Juvenile Center.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. Email your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

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