Hero cat wins a dog of an award; $US500,000 for an encyclopaedia; and the world’s longest pizza…

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

We seem to have a bit of a cat theme running for the past few weeks but we couldn’t let this week pass without mentioning the fact that a Los Angeles animal shelter has announced Tara the cat has won its ‘Hero Dog’ award. The first cat to take out the annual award, Tara was given the gong for her valiant efforts in attacking and chasing away a neighbour’s dog when it sunk its teeth into her owner’s leg. The footage, captured on CCTV camera, went viral when it was subsequently posted online.

Remember when a set of encyclopaedias was a must-have on your bookshelves? It might be time to revisit the idea with a US artist Michael Mandiberg writing a software program that would convert all of Wikipedia’s 11.5 million entries into a printed form. But before you rush out to grab a copy of all 7,600 volumes, consider the cost - $US500,000. Don’t expect a lot of sales.

At more than 1.5 kilometre’s long, there should be no fights over the last piece. Italy has reportedly set a new Guinness World Record for the world’s longest pizza after creating a 1,595.45 metre long pie. Made by more than 60 chefs, it used more than two tonnes of tomatoes and more than 1.5 tonnes of mozzarella. Meanwhile, in the US there’s reportedly been an attempt to create the world’s longest line of doughnuts with the creation of a line at a festival in Michigan measuring almost 3.5 kilometres long. Verification awaits.

While we’re talking records, here’s another recent one: 66 people reportedly crowded onto a single large surfboard at Huntington Beach in the US to seize the record for most people riding a surfboard. The group was able to balance on the board for 13 seconds - three more than the required 10 - to seize the record from Australia where where the previous record of 47 was set in 2009. The record breaking feat took place on International Surfing Day.

‘Bossy’ takes charge; toe wrestling; and, celebrating a Martian new year…

June 17th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

Hot on the heels of news of CatConLA, comes news that a company in the Romanian capital of Bucharest has hired a cat as its director of communications. Nine-month-old blue Scottish Folds cat, ‘Bossy’, reportedly beat off 700 other applicants for the position at internet start-up Catbox.ro which carries a £110 a month salary. Certainly has gained them some international attention.

• No good at thumb wrestling? Maybe toe wrestling is for you. The world championships have just ended in the Derbyshire village of Fenny Bentley in the UK with events for both males and females. The ’sport’, which insists on cut nails and washed feet, is said to date back to 1976 and was first held in a pub in Staffordshire (apparently so the English could win at something) but it’s since attracted interest around the world. Alan “Nasty” Nash reportedly won the men’s title for the 12th time while the women’s title went to Tracy Tippy Toe.

Citizens of Mars, Pennsylvania, in the US, are preparing to mark the Red Planet’s new year with three days of celebration. The Martian New Year, which occurs on Thursday, 18th June, takes place about once every two Earth years and so to mark the event NASA is joining with a range of organisations in sponsoring a series of exhibitions and events in the town, which lies north of Pittsburgh. These include a “blast off dinner”, costume contest and mobile science lab. The next Mars new year will occur on 5th May, 2017.

A convention for cats; the “moss men” on parade; and, re-enacting military…err, fantasy…

June 10th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

CatConLA, the world’s first convention for cats, was held in Los Angeles last weekend. Described as being “like Comic Con…but for cat people”, the two day convention provided a showcase of products for cats as well as a host of cat-themed furniture, art, toys and clothing and the chance to hear from such cat world luminaries as Eli Omidi, creator of Cats of Instagram, Ben Huh, founder of the meme website Cheezburger, and Mike Bridavsky, “best friend” of Lil Bub, described on her website as the “most amazing cat on the planet” and a noted champion of the ‘undercat’. Can’t wait to hear what Grumpy Cat has to say about it!

The “moss men” went on parade in the Spanish town of Bejar earlier this month in what is a tradition that has its origins back in the 12th century. The parade - known in Spanish as the procession of the “Hombres de Musgo” - apparently started owing to a legend which tells of how a group of Christians reconquered the town, which had been occupied by Moorish forces, by disguising themselves with moss and sneaking past the guards one night. The modern-day procession reportedly ends at a church where a flag representing the Moors who governed the town is surrendered.

Military re-enactments have been with us for a long time - the Romans were known for carrying out their elaborate re-enactments of their great victories in the Colosseum. But now comes a new twist - that of re-enacting battles from the realm of fantasy. Hundreds of elaborately-dressed enthusiasts gathered near the town of Doksy in the Czech Republic recently to re-enact the Battle of the Five Armies from JRR Tolkien’s book The Hobbit (and recently featured in the third part of the Hobbit trilogy of films). Dressed as men, elves, orcs, and dwarves, the armies battled it out in a forest about 80 kilometres outside Prague. You can see a gallery of images here.

Learner-driver’s harsh lesson; lift-toilets?; and, ‘high vis’ camels…

June 3rd, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

• A learner-driver took a wrong turn in Germany - and had her car crushed by a tank. The incident reportedly took place in the town of Augustdorf and the 18-year-old driver apparently didn’t see the convoy of tanks when she turned onto Panzerringstrasse (which translates as ‘tank ring road’) with the tank driver unable to stop before rolling over the front of her car. Thankfully the driver of the car was uninjured.

Scared of being trapped in a lift? Spare a thought for people living in Japan where the frequent number of earthquakes makes it a very real possibility (most recently when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck last weekend). Given people can be stuck in such situations for hours, authorities there are reportedly considering installing toilets and drinking fountains in lifts (or at least collapsible cardboard structures for use as toilets and a stock of water for those emergency situations). Could make for some interesting lift conversation.

Camels in Israel are being given a “high vis” makeover to reduce the number of desert road accidents. The more than 6,000 camels that roam southern Israel have proved an all-too-real problem for drivers, prompting calls for action. While Bedouins have reportedly started placing GPS trackers on the camels so they can be alerted when they are about to cross highways, a regional council - in a move which has been welcomed by the Bedouins - has come up with the idea of fitting them out with glowing bands around their neck and legs to allow them to be more easily seen at night.

Smiling requirement for Oxford’s buskers; wafer-thin TVs; and, a new world planking record…

May 27th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

• Buskers in Oxford, England, have been warned - keep a smile on your face or run the risk of a £1,000 fine. The city council is reportedly bringing in a ‘Public Space Protection Order’ which instructs buskers to “smile, enjoy yourself and entertain others”. But while the rules have been in place for some time, the new order would fall under anti-social behaviour legislation meaning those breaking the code could face £100 on-the-spot fines or as much as £1,000 if the matter goes to court. The buskers are rebelling - at a demonstration held earlier this week what was described as an “army of performers” put on a display of non-compliant busking.

TVs used to be heavy, clunky devices that hogged a large amount of space. Then came flat screens with the ability to be simply hung on a wall. But even they look rather cumbersome compared to the new TVs developed by South Korean firm LG. It’s reportedly come up with a TV that’s less than one millimetre thick and weighs just 1.9 kilograms. Known as the “Wallpaper TV”, it apparently comes with a magnetic mat that allows the TV to be stuck on a wall, and, when you’re finished watching, simply peeled off.

Danish fitness instructor Tim Hoel has set a new world record for ‘planking’, managing to hold the ‘push-up’ style position for four hours and 28 minutes. The 51-year-old reportedly previously held the record before he lost it to a Chinese police officer last October. His new record beats that one by two minutes and his own previous record by a full 80 minutes. Meanwhile, a Chinese bee-keeper has reportedly set a new world record by covering himself with an estimated 1.1 million bees, weighing in at 109.5 kilograms.

New “nations” declared in the Balkans; “Slow TV”; and, write an essay to snag a home…

May 20th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

A new self-declared micro-state has appeared on the borders of Slovenia and Croatia. The Kingdom of Enclava is just 93 square metres in size and was proclaimed by “Polish tourist K Wrona”, apparently after it was found the space wasn’t recognised as part of either nation. Thousands have reportedly applied for honorary citizenship in the new nation (which at the time of writing, numbers 134 citizens) which has five official languages including English, Polish, Croatian, Slovenian and Chinese. The declaration follows the recent declaration of another micro-state known as Liberland, a seven square kilometre patch of “no man’s land” between Serbia and Croatia.

It’s been called “slow television”, although the word boring may also come to mind. Icelandic public TV network RUV has reportedly run a live, 24 hour, feed of a sheep giving birth in a bid to give what it calls “insight into the traditional farming life”. It follows a series of broadcasts by Norwegian public TV broadcaster NRK which has previously broadcast an eight hour knitting marathon, a 12 hour program showing burning wood, a 100 hour chess marathon and numerous lengthy broadcasts of train and boat trips in Norway including 130 hours of a cruise ship sailing up the country’s coast. The BBC are also reportedly preparing to embrace the idea and British Airways announced last year it would run a seven hour program of a train journey in Norway as part of its entertainment offerings.

Another American family are preparing to hand over their home to a new owner for just $US150 - and an essay. Michael and Stephanie Wachs are reportedly asking would-be buyers to submit a 200 word persuasive essay about why they’d be a suitable buyer for the two bedroom, two bathroom home along with their $US150 “offer fee”. The essay winner must pay closing costs and the actual price of the home written on the contract would be $1. Market value of the home is reportedly more than $US394,000 - to cover that sum, the Wachs are looking for 3,000 entries by mid June. They decided to sell their home in such a fashion after reading about an inn in Maine which was sold in a similar way. Visit www.150house.com to enter your bid for the Houston property. Meanwhile in Florida, a cupcake shop is also reportedly looking to sell via a similar method - in this case $US100 and an essay.

Vegemite and…chocolate?; Captain Kidd’s treasure found?; and, catching a falling plane in a spider’s web…

May 13th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

While Americans still seem to struggle with the taste of Australian icon Vegemite, at home the salty breakfast spread is apparently about to get a new twist with Cadbury announcing the release in June of a new Vegemite chocolate. While many apparently thought it was a social media hoax, the chocolate maker has assured people it’s no such thing, however scary that might sound. It’s already had an outing on Channel Ten show, The Panel, and the reviews were somewhat mixed. But hey, we’ll give it a go.

Unearthing the lost treasure of pirate hunter turned pirate Captain Kidd has been the dream of treasure-hunters around the world for years. But it may now be able to become a reality with news that a silver bar has been found off the coast of Madagascar. The 55 kilogram bar was found by divers searching for the remains of Kidd’s ship, the Adventure Gallery, which he ran aground in 1698 off St Marie Island (Kidd was subsequently executed for piracy in London in 1701 after his crew deserted). The archaeologists who found the ingot as part of a joint US-UK expedition reportedly presented to the President of Madagascar, Hery Rajaonarimampianina. Stay tuned for more.

Catching a falling plane in a spider’s web might sound a little…err…unlikely, but researchers in Italy say it may be possible. They’ve reportedly been spraying orb-weaver spiders with a special carbon nanotube and graphene solution which has caused them to create silk that is 3.5 times stronger than normal. They are hoping that the discovery may lead to the creation of a mass production process which could see the material being used to create giant stretchable nets able to catch aircraft before they crash.

Understanding the next gen; hanging up on the pope; and, a call to arms…

May 6th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

Do you have a FOMO? And know what they mean if someone calls you ‘bae’ or says you’re ‘on fleek’? A new study has reportedly exposed the generation gap between parents and teenagers in the UK, finding that 86 per cent of British parents think teenagers speak an entirely different language when they’re on social media or mobile messaging systems. As well as the above (FOMO means ‘fear of missing out’, bae is short for baby and is a term of affection, and, being on fleek means ‘looking good’), the University College London study found the top 10 new forms of language on social media and instant messaging systems which parents don’t understand included ‘deadout’ (rubbish or tired), ‘RN’ (right now) and ‘thirsty’ (looking for attention).

Ever regretted hanging up on someone you thought was a marketer or a prank caller but later turned out to be someone important? Italian Franco Rabuffi has. He reportedly twice hung up on Pope Francis, global head of the Catholic Church, when the pope rang him to offer his sympathy because he was ill. Mr Rabuffi did take the pope seriously the third time he rang and later apologised publicly for his mistake.

‘Knights’ from around the world gathered in Poland recently to belt each other with swords and shields in the 2nd annual Medieval World Combat Championships. More than 500 competitors from 26 countries took part in the four day, “full contact” tournament at Malbork Castle fighting in country teams. Poland were reportedly declared the winners followed by the UK, Spanish, Swedish and US teams.

Woman throws a mango at the president (and gets a new home); using Minecraft to design national parks; and, a new way to serve your ice-cream…

April 29th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

A Venezuelan woman who threw a mango at the head of the country’s president to get his attention (recorded in a video that has gone viral) has been rewarded with the promise of a new home. Marleny Olivo had housing problem and was looking for help, so she tossed a mango at President Nicolas Maduro while he was driving a bus (he’s a former bus driver who apparently likes to connect with constituents by getting behind the wheel every now and again). The fruit had her name and phone number written on it asking him to call her. Officials did and notified her that he had agreed with her request for a flat as part of what he called the “Great Housing Mission of Venezuela”. The president said he would eat the fruit.

Students are being asked to have a crack at designing Australia’s next national park - using the computer game Minecraft. Upper primary school students in South Australia are being asked enter a contest in which they design their own national park complete with hiking and mountain bike trails and camp sites as well as spots from where the enjoy the scenic vistas (bearing in mind that the park’s features need to complement the natural environment - in particular the plants and animals that live there). The State Government has set aside $10.4 million for park projects meaning some of the ideas created online might just end up being brought to life in the real world. The competition closes on 12th June.

Tired of eating your ice-cream in a boring old cone? Ben & Jerry’s in the US has unveiled what it hopes will be the next big thing in edible ice-cream containers - the ice-cream burrito. The waffle-like wrap was unveiled at the same time as the ice-cream experts announced another new release - an ice-cream flavoured beer called Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale developed in conjunction with New Belgium Brewing. Hmmmm.

Of hair-pulling; Kermit the Frog lookalikes; and, why R2-D2 is to be seen flying high…

April 22nd, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

New Zealand’s PM, John Key, has apologised to a waitress who said he repeatedly pulled her ponytail while visiting a cafe near his home in Auckland. The unnamed waitress said he had pulled her hair over a period of months despite being repeatedly told to stop and wrote on the Daily Blog website that she didn’t like it, felt powerless and tormented and had cried “frustrated tears” over the incidents. A spokesperson for the PM told the New Zealand Herald his actions were “intended to be light-hearted”. “It was never his intention to make her feel uncomfortable and he has apologised to her.”

The Muppeteers must have known - a new frog discovered in Costa Rica bears an uncanny resemblance to Kermit the Frog. The discovery of the new species of glassfrog - formally known as Hyalinobatrachium dianae - was trumpeted by the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center and the images tell an amazing story. Meanwhile, in other animal-related news, a life-sized statue of a dugong, weighing an amazing 700 kilograms, has been stolen for the second time from the frontyard of a home in far north Queensland. The bronze statue, which is worth nearly $90,000, reportedly first went missing in February last year but was found in a state forest by a hiker only a few days later. It has now disappeared a second time.

Star Wars favorite R2-D2 is soon to be seen in the skies. Japan’s All Nippon Airways has announced plans to deck out one of its new 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft in R2-D2-themed decorations in a tribute to the movie franchise, which sees its next instalment, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, hit screens in December. The project is part of a five-year ‘Star Wars Project’ being carried out by the airline in an attempt to “connect Japan to the global market”.