Of gold-covered chocolate; a chocoholics’ dream job; and, when you’re just not ugly enough…

November 25th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

• Like gold with your chocolate? Nestle Japan has reportedly announced it will be selling 500 gold coated Kit Kat fingers later this month to mark its approaching milestone of a million customers at its Chocolatory stores. The bars, each of which is reportedly priced at the equivalent of $US16, will be coated with a thin layer of 24 carat gold. The company will also be raffling off some solid gold versions to those who take up its membership program.

While we’re talking chocolate, UK chocolate company Mackie’s has advertised it is looking for a “chief chocolate taster”. The successful applicant will be tasked with the job of inventing a new flavour to celebrate the opening of the Scottish company’s new Aberdeen factory. The job will run for a year and applicants, who are required to have a “mouth and tastebuds”, have to apply before 3rd December.

Accusations of cheating have plagued a competition to find Zimbabwe’s ugliest man with the winner being accused of being too good looking. The winner of the Mister Ugly contest, 42-year-old Mison Sere, is reportedly missing front teeth and sports a range of twisted facial expressions. But others among the 36 competitors have cried foul, saying the man’s ugliness isn’t natural and claimed he was “too handsome” to win. The winner said his critics were “sore losers”.

The Word of the Year that’s not a word; Google pulled over; and, Otto the dog sets a new world record…

November 18th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

• It’s ‘Word of the Year’ time at Oxford Dictionaries but this year the word is actually a pictograph - that of the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji. Oxford Dictionaries said the rather self-explanatory ‘word’ “best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015″ and was the most used emoji globally this year, making up 20 per cent of emojis used in the UK and 17 per cent in the US. Other words on the short-list included “sharing economy”, “refugee”, “Dark Web”, and “lumbersexual” - defined as “a young urban man who cultivates an appearance and style of dress (typified by a beard and check shirt) suggestive of a rugged outdoor lifestyle.”

• A police officer in California pulled over one of Google’s self-driving car prototypes last week - for travelling too slowly. Mountain View Police Department said the car was pulled over after it was spotted travelling at 24mph in a 35mph zone causing traffic to bank up. The Google Self-Driving Car Project said it had capped the speed of prototype vehicles at 25mph for “safety reasons”, noting that “(a)fter 1.2 million miles of autonomous driving (that’s the human equivalent of 90 years of driving experience), we’re proud to say we’ve never been ticketed!”.

• Where do they come up with the ideas for these records? A three-year-old bulldog named Otto is among the latest to have his name inscribed in the Guinness Book of Records by setting a world record for the “longest human tunnel travelled through by a skateboarding dog” (the tunnel was 30 people long). The feat was reportedly set in the Peruvian capital of Lima as part of the 11th annual Guinness World Records Day. Other world records set for the day include the “tightest parallel parking in reverse” (just 34 centimetres between cars in front and behind), and the “fastest 100 metres running on all fours” (15.71 seconds).

Of “Origami cars”; cleaning up chewing gum (a lot of it); and, Spanish doctor found after 20 years…

November 11th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

• A full-sized working “Origami car” was unveiled in the UK last month. Made out of 1,700 laser-cut cardboard sheets, the Lexus IS executive saloon is driveable thanks to an electric motor and has fully functional doors, wheels and headlights. Inspired by the practice of production-line employees who make Origami models to improve their dexterity, the car was made by Lexus with LaserCut Works and Scales and Models, a south London design company. You can find out more here. Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Nissan has also unveiled a life-sized version of its ‘Juke’ model to celebrate the car’s fifth birthday in the UK. It took British artist Owen Gildersleeve 2,000 pieces of paper and 200 hours to build.

• If you’ve ever been ’stuck’ with the horrible job of cleaning gum off a piece of furnishing spare a thought for the cleaners of a famous “gum wall” in the US - they’re looking at removing a million pieces of the stuff from a wall. The rather gross trend to stick gum on the wall of Post Alley in Seattle reportedly dates back to 1991 and owes its origins to theatre-goers who clearly couldn’t be bothered looking for a bin. But local authorities, concerned at the damage the sugar in the gum is causing to bricks, have decided it’s time to clean-up. To celebrate the end of the landmark, the Pike Place Market, where the wall is located, is asking people to submit their photos of the wall to its Facebook page here.

• A Spanish doctor missing for almost 20 years has been found living in an Italian forest - and has apparently decided to stay there. Carlos Sanchez Ortiz de Salazar, 47, had been reportedly missing for 14 years when he was declared dead in 2010. Two weeks ago mushroom pickers came across a man claiming to be the missing man who told them he had been living there since 1997 - showing his passport for them to photograph as proof - before disappearing back into the woods. His family have reportedly confirmed his identity.

What would you say to an alien?; European leaders show LEGO building skills; and, life in Liverpool’s fast lane…

November 4th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

• What would you say to an alien? A new campaign, headed by Professor Christopher Riley from the University of Lincoln’s School of Film and Media, is calling for message suggestions so that one final message can be added to those carried on the two Voyager spacecraft - currently hurtling through the outer reaches of our solar system - before we lose contact. The two Voyager probes - named 1 and 2 - were launched in 1977 on a mission to explore space and both carry “golden records” containing music, greetings, sounds and pictures to communicate something of life on Earth should they encounter aliens. But Professor Riley believes the messages should be updated before the probes lose all on-board electrical power in around 3,000 days and has called for submissions for a new message to be added to reflect something of what’s happened over the past 40 years (no more than 1,000 characters long).

Northern European leaders including British PM David Cameron, Danish PM Lars Rasmussen and Iceland’s PM Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson got to show off their Lego building skills (or lack of them) during a recent visit to Iceland. The leaders were reportedly each given six pieces of Lego and 40 seconds to make a duck out of them as part of what was described as a “creative bonding challenge” at a two day summit in the capital of Reykjavik. There’s apparently nine million different ways of combining the pieces to create a duck and from what we’ve seen (we won’t name names), the results were varied to say the least.

Making your way through crowded city streets can be a time-consuming, frustrating process. So much so that a shopping centre in the UK city of Liverpool has reportedly decided to address the problem by trialling fast pedestrian lanes. The move comes as research shows almost half of all shoppers say they find the slow pace of walking the most annoying aspect of shopping. It’s not the first time the idea has been floated - last year Chongqing City introduced special walking lanes for smartphone users to clear other lanes.

Zaqistan celebrates 10 years; why spaceships are safe (so far) from “tractor beams”; and plastic bag fever hits England…

October 28th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

It won’t appear on your maps of North America but micro-nation the Republic of Zaqistan is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Named apparently for its president (and founding father), New Yorker Zaq Landsberg, Zaqistan, the nation was founded on two acres of land in the US state of Utah which Landsberg bought in an online auction back in 2005. Described by Landsberg as a “harsh and desolate” place, landmarks include the recently erected Decennial Monument - commemorating its 10 year existence, a border post and a Victory Arch, erected in 2009 as a monument to an “unspecified victory”. Landsberg recently told local news organisation KSL that while he wanted it to “become a real country”, he accepted “that goal is not going to happen”. “It’s impossible, but going through the motions, (I’m) trying to make that happen.”

• It’s been the bane of good guys throughout the galaxy - getting caught in the enemy’s “tractor beam” and being pulled aboard their ship as was the case in the opening scenes of the original Star Wars film. Until now the subject of science fiction (the tractor beam also makes appearances in Star Trek), a group of UK scientists has brought the concept into the real world, laying claim to creating the world’s first “beam” able to capture objects and move them. The technique - which is detailed in the journal Nature Photonics - has so far only been applied to a particle five microns wide and sadly, it is reported, can’t be scaled up to space-ship size (the laser required would apparently be too big). But it could still have some real-world applications in the areas of medicine or intricate engineering work.

Don’t throw out that plastic bag just yet - it could be worth something. The introduction of a 5p plastic bag tax in England has got people all over the country scouring their cupboards to see what treasures lie within as would-be entrepreneurs hit online auction sites to hock their plastic bag collections to the highest bidder. While some are offering 100 bags for the cut price figure of £2.50, others are looking for a more discerning buyer for their “vintage” (think Asda, 1994) or top-shelf branded plastic bags (think Harrods) - priced at a modest couple of pounds, while another (presumably joke) listing on eBay is offering five “random plastic bags” for £1,000.

Another blessed pizza delivery person; super-sized food in Milan; Israeli hummus bar promotes peace; and, it pays to behave in Concord…

October 21st, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

It’s a good time to be a pizza delivery person in the US. Last week we mentioned an Ohio church which gave a pizza delivery woman a $US1000 tip - now an Alaskan church has reportedly joined in the fun, giving a driver $US1,900. Delivering a pizza to the Chugach Covenant Church Congregation in Anchorage, 14 year pizza delivery veteran Ken Felber was asked what the biggest tip he’d ever received was. He replied $100 only to have Pastor Dan Krause ask him: ”How does a tip of $1,900 sound?” Needless to say, it sounded good.

A 122 metre long baguette - which took 60 French and Italian bakers some seven hours to create using a special mobile oven - has been named the world’s longest. Guinness World Records has reportedly given the baguette, made at the Milan Expo 2015 World’s Fair last Sunday, its tick of approval. The previous record of 111 metres had been set by a French supermarket chain in Vietnam in 2009. There have been at least four world records set at the six month long event in Milan which ends this month, including one for the longest pizza (more than 1.5 kilometres long!).

A hummus bar in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya is doing its bit to promote peace in the region by offering half price plates of hummus to tables where Jews and Arabs are sitting together. The manager of the Hummus Bar at the M Mall in Kfar Vitkin, Kobi Tzafrir, told the Times of Israel that the initiative, which was launched on 13th October, has already been a success. “If there’s anything that can bring together these peoples, it’s hummus,” he said.

If police officers in the town of Concord in Massachusetts in the US happen to pull you over this month, don’t be alarmed, they may just want to acknowledge your good behaviour. The department reportedly says it plans on issuing 200 notices for good behaviour, rewarding such practices as wearing a seatbelt or looking both ways before crossing the road. The citations are exchangeable for two scoops of ice-cream at a local cafe.

A generous tip; ‘dating’ your dog; and, buying a box of leaves…

October 14th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

It’s not everyday pizzas get delivered in the middle of a church service. And it’s certainly not everyday that the delivery person gets a $US1,000 tip in a gesture of extravagant generosity. That’s what reportedly happened in the US on a recent Sunday when a Domino’s driver, delivering a pizza to the Sycamore Creek Church in the town of Pickerington, Ohio, was brought up on stage and told that the congregation, learning about what it means to be generous, had taken up a special offering of more than $US1,000 for her. The driver, named as Natasha, broke down in tears when told of the church’s generosity (follow the above link to see a video). Meanwhile, while we’re talking food - the latest food oddity out of the US? Donut fries - donuts shaped like French fries which, not dissimilar to Mexican churros, come with dipping sauces. They’re the idea of Californian-based Psycho Donuts.

It’s a dating app with a difference. PawsLikeMe aims to set up potential dog owners with the pooch that’s most suitable for them. The free app, only available in the US, uses a “proven algorithm” to ensure the compatibility of pets and their owners with the dogs then sourced from various dog shelters around the US. You can also find a new home for your own dog should you need to do so. An app for cats is apparently coming soon.

No doubt that it’s entrepreneurial. A man in the US state of Massachusetts is making the most of autumn in the northern hemisphere, launching a business in which he ships a box of dried up leaves right to your door for just $US19.99. Kyle Waring reportedly set up the business shipfoliage.com earlier this year and commenced shipping the leaves - which come in a range of colors and sizes and are preserved in glycerin and water - this month. It’s not the first time he’s ventured into such an enterprise - Mr Waring was the man behind last year’s ShipSnowYo.com in which he shipped snow to buyers around the country.

Of ‘extreme phone pinching’; teddy bear theme parks; and, Santa Claus running for office in North Pole…

October 7th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

It’s among the latest viral trends to sweep over social media and takes oddness to new heights. Called ‘extreme phone pinching’, it involves holding your mobile phone by pinching it between just a thumb and finger and dangling it over some perilous location whether that be a cliff, a drain, over the side of a tall building or even a toilet. The trend reportedly started back in July and apparently owes its origins to US musical duo Twenty One Pilots. But beware, taking part can come with a significant financial cost (iPhones aren’t cheap!)

We love a theme park with a difference on StrangeSights and this new theme park, which is scheduled to open in China soon, certainly fits the bill. The 400 hectare park is reportedly devoted to British-themed teddy bears and will feature a teddy bear museum at its heart as well as a “Beefeater bear” foodcourt serving British food and a “Shakespeare theatre” featuring a cast of teddy bears. The park, located near Beijing, is a joint venture between The Great British Teddy Bear Company and Tenio Architectural Design.

Santa Claus is running for office in North Pole (well, where else?) The man, whose name actually has been changed to Santa Claus, is one of two candidates for North Pole City Council, the News Miner reports. North Pole is a suburb of the city of Fairbanks in eastern Alaska. The outcome of the election, at this stage, remains unknown.

Of dull men; mail-eating monkeys; and, “celebrating” life in a post-apocalyptic world…

September 30th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

Think you’re dull? Maybe this will make you feel better. Leland Carlson, the assistant vice-president of the UK-based Dull Men’s Club, has released a new book featuring what he believes is something of a who’s who of dull men in Britain (and that takes into account those who appeared in the club’s 2015 calendar!). Dull Men of Great Britain features 40 “boring Brits” including a train spotter, a collector of vacuum cleaners, a measurer of mountains and a photographer of plaques. Follow the link above to meet some of the men.

We’ve all heard the old excuse, “the dog ate my homework” but what “I never received the letter because a monkey ate the mail”? A pet monkey, known as Zeek, went on something of a rampage in the community of Sanford, in Florida, earlier this week, eating the contents of at least one mail box, swinging off traffic signs and pulling bits off the police car sent to apprehend him. He was eventually distracted by a bottle of water before being collected by his owner. You can check out the police department’s Facebook page for some pictures.

Some 2,500 Americans experienced life in a post-apocalyptic world last weekend in an event in California inspired by the dystopian world of film franchise Mad Max. Wasteland Weekend, held in the Mojave Desert over four days from last Thursday, features specially-made vehicles, activities including fire-spinning and bounty hunting games, and live bands and other performances - all with the aim, say organisers, of living “inside the movie”. It is the fifth year the weekend - said to be the largest festival of its kind in the world - has been run.

Huh? (in whatever language you like); ‘invisibility cloak’ a step closer; and, PETA sues over monkey selfies…

September 24th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

The discovery that an equivalent of the word ‘huh?’ exists in every language, a study of what parts of the body are most painful when stung by a bee, and research showing how acute appendicitus can be accurately diagnosed by the amount of pain a patient is in when driven over speed humps have all been honoured at this year’s Ig Nobel Awards. At what we presume was a glittering awards night on 17th September, the 25th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony also saw awards handed to an Australian group of researchers who invented a chemical recipe to partially unboil an egg, a group of US and Taiwanese researchers who tested the principle that all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds no matter how big they may be, and an international group of scientists who found many business leaders had developed a fondness for risk-taking in childhood after experiencing a natural disaster like a earthquake that had no dire consequences for them personally. The Ig Nobels are awarded in a range of categories for achievements that “first make people laugh, then make them think”.

The quest for an invisibility cloak took a step forward recently with news that a team of researchers in the US have reportedly developed a ‘cloak’ which conforms to the shape of an object and makes it undetectable with visible light. The super-thin cloak - which has a thickness of just 80 nanometres - re-routs light waves to make it invisible to the eye. Those behind the research have suggested the technology could be used for a range of military applications - hiding a tank, for example - or even for masking facial blemishes or hiding one’s belly.

Remember the Indonesia monkey who took what appeared to be a grinning selfie when a British photographer left his camera unattended? Animal rights activists in the US have reportedly lodged a federal lawsuit in California in which they claim that Naruto, a six-year-old crested macaque who lives on the island of Sulawesi, should be given the copyright on that and a series of photos he took using the camera of British photographer David Slater. They’re also asking for the monkey to receive damages for copyright infringement after Slater used the images in a wildlife book. Slater has reportedly said he was “very saddened” by the lawsuit - filed by People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA) - because he considers himself an advocate of animal rights.