Odds & Ends

Odds & Ends

Joshua Lee
5 min read
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Dateline: England

octors were surprised to find the “tumor” they were removing from a man’s lung was actually a toy traffic cone. The patient—a 47-year-old British handyman—complained of a persistent cough lasting for more than a year. He was referred to a respiratory clinic, where X-rays showed a mass in his lung. Based on the his history as a long-term smoker, his doctors assumed the spot was a tumor and operated, leading to the discovery of a “long lost Playmobil traffic cone” the man had received for his seventh birthday. He’d suffered no ill effects growing up, and had never made any complaints before the nagging cough episode. A British Medical Journal (BMJ) report theorized that the patient’s airway might have grown around the toy, adapting for its presence over the last 40 years. The man’s cough has shown significant signs of improvement following the surgery.

Dateline: Mexico

Civil defense officials in Mexico say
fish fell from the sky during a light rain last week. Tamaulipas civil defense released a statement saying that a recent rain shower in the coastal city of Tampico included fish as well as water. The agency posted photos on their Facebook page depicting four small fish in a bag and another on a sidewalk. According to the US Library of Congress, the phenomenon of fish or frog rainfalls has been reported for centuries. Scientists believe tornadic water spouts might suck fish into the air and deposit them elsewhere as “rain.”

Dateline: Austria

The developer of a $4,500 “intelligent” sex doll complained that it was left “heavily soiled” after being handled at a tech fair. Sergi Santos—who owns “Samantha,” a life-like synthetic sex doll that responds to touch—told reporters that a
constant string of groping men at the Ars Electronica Festival in the city of Linz had damaged the robot. Santos, the owner of Barcelona-based technology company Synthea Amatus, told the Daily Star, “The people mounted Samantha’s breasts, her legs and arms. Two fingers were broken. She was heavily soiled.” The doll had to be sent back to Spain for repairs and cleaning, according to Santos, but her programming remained intact. Samantha was a main attraction on display at the tech festival hosted in Austria, where the sex robot industry is gaining steam. Earlier this year, the country became the focus of international headlines when an interactive love doll named Fanny outperformed human prostitutes at the Kontakthof brothel in Vienna. Santos says he’s already sold 15 of his dolls, which are built in China and Spain.

Dateline: California

A former self-driving car engineer for Uber recently filed paperwork to create a religious organization that worships a “Godhead” based on artificial intelligence. According to California state filings discovered by
Wired’s Backchannel, Anthony Levandowski—who was fired from Uber in May—has established a nonprofit religious corporation called Way of the Future. The hopeful church’s stated goal is reportedly nothing less than to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.” Levandowski is currently at the center of a controversial legal battle between Uber and Google’s Waymo. In February, Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber, alleging that Levandowski–who had previously worked at Google on the company’s robocar project—had stolen trade secrets when he left the company in 2016 to work for Uber.

Dateline: Kentucky

A man armed with a handgun and
dressed as a bottle of Coca-Cola robbed a Kentucky restaurant. According to police, the suspect stuck up a Rally’s restaurant in Henderson before it had opened. The armed robber stole over $500 from the closed business. Surveillance footage of the incident shows a white male in what appears to be a Halloween costume threatening the restaurant’s manager with a handgun. The manager, who was the only staff member on site, was uninjured during the robbery.

Dateline: Russia

Burger King Russia has filed an official government complaint to the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) demanding the
removal of the film It from theaters because they allege that it gives McDonald’s an unfair advantage. According to the complaint, filed earlier this month and obtained by Russian financial publication Vedomosti, the film’s monster—a clown with red hair and white face makeup named Pennywise—allegedly shares too close a resemblance to McDonald’s famous mascot Ronald McDonald. The complaint calls Pennywise the “protagonist of the movie” and is an “exact copy” of their rival’s mascot. Burger King Russia says the appearance of the film’s murderous clown amounts to free advertising for their competitor and violates Russian laws. The FAS is currently investigating the film for any incidences of product placement or advertising. It opened in Russia Sept. 7, and according to Hollywood Reporter, it’s grossed over $14 million in Russia so far.

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

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