Odds & Ends

Odds & Ends

Joshua Lee
5 min read
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Dateline: Oregon

he world’s last Blockbuster is staying open due to “pure stubbornness,” says its general manager. Huffpost reports that at the end of March, a Blockbuster located in Australia will be shutting its doors, leaving one final franchise location in Bend, Ore. The store’s general manager, Sandi Harding, has worked at the location for 15 years, and she says she did everything in her power to keep the store’s costs down and the doors open. The Bend location was originally a local video store until it was converted to a Blockbuster in 2000. In 2010, the company declared bankruptcy and all corporate locations closed by 2014. Last year the Bend location became the last location in the US when the only other one—a store in Alaska—closed its doors for good. Surprisingly, being the last Blockbuster in America helped bring new customers, as tourists began to visit the site. Harding began carrying sweatshirts, T-shirts, cups, magnets, bumper stickers, hats and stocking caps that carried the slogan “The Last Blockbuster in America,” which became hot items at the store. Fans began donating old VHS tapes, DVDs and Blockbuster memorabilia. Harding says she has no plans to close the store anytime soon, as business is booming. She has allegedly ordered a batch of merchandise sporting a new slogan: “The Last Blockbuster on the Planet.”

Dateline: China

Chinese internet users are paying to have strangers give them compliments. According to
CNBC, the new social media fad is primarily taking place on China’s most popular messaging app, WeChat. Users visit a website called Taobao to search for social groups known as kuakuaqun, Mandarin for “praising groups.” These groups are listed on the site with pricing options. After purchasing services, the user is invited to join the group on the platform. Once there, group members will lavish praise and compliments on the user for a set amount of time. CNBC spoke to the administrator of one of these groups who said they charged 15 yuan for three minutes or 25 yuan for five minutes of praise. This specific group also offered the option of adding details to make the experience more personal, and even gave clients the chance to order compliments for a friend. The craze reportedly extends to free groups, as well. These groups consist of users bombarding each other with constant compliments. Both types of groups reportedly attract large numbers of users—some have hundreds of followers. It is believed that the groups might be a response to a previous trend of “curse groups”—groups where users would hurl insults at one another. The phenomenon could also be a response to the general negativity found on social media.

Dateline: Massachusetts

The mayor of Fall River, Mass., was recently voted out of office—then voted back in on the same ballot.
The New York Times reports that Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II, who was serving his second term in office, was charged with 13 criminal counts of wire fraud and filing false tax returns in November of last year. He denied the charges and when the City Council gave him an ultimatum—resign or face a recall—he refused to leave. A recall election was held earlier this month, and 7,829 residents reportedly voted to remove Correia from office. On the same ballot, however, voters were also asked to choose his replacement. Among the five candidates, Correia was again listed. There, with a 35 percent plurality vote, he won the right to succeed himself. School committee member Paul Coogan, the runner-up, lost by less than 300 votes. In an interview the following day, Coogan seemed perplexed. “This is weird,” he said. “It doesn’t make much sense to anybody. He didn’t really get a mandate.” Opponents of the plurality voting system say this is an example of why it should be replaced. A lawsuit was filed last week claiming that the city charter prohibits city officers facing recall from running for reelection, but a superior court judge rejected the suit. Coogan said he plans to run in the mayoral primary in September.

Dateline: Colorado

When a Colorado Senator invoked his right to hear the entirety of a 2,000-page bill read aloud, proponents brought in computers to read the bill faster than a human can understand. According to
The Denver Post, last week Sen. John Cooke requested that House Bill 1172, which seeks to revise Title 12 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, be read aloud—presumably to delay the Colorado Senate from voting on bills concerning the death penalty and oil and gas. Cooke reportedly requested a delay in the proceedings, but was dismissed. After making the request, he said, “We keep saying we want things slowed down, and this is the only thing we have in our arsenal,” indicating the procedural move was a tactical one. It was estimated that a full reading of the text would take upward of 60 hours, but Democrats in the Colorado Senate devised an unconventional plan. After a staffer read for three hours, five computers were brought into the Senate. The computers each read a separate portion of the bill at a speed that was too fast to understand. Cooke complained that the act violated the spirit of the rule. Hearings scheduled for the following day proceeded as planned.

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

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