A network of freelance Buddhist priests in Japan last year began offering in-home, a la carte services (for those adherents who shun temples) through Amazon, quoting fixed fees and bypassing the usual awkward deliberation over "donations." And in September, Pastor David Taylor of Joshua Media Ministries International of St. Louis announced, to great fanfare, that he had "resurrected" a diabetic woman, 40 minutes after her death, by sending the lady a text message — through Facebook (though, of course, neither she nor any family member was available for an interview).
Hankerin' for some roadkill
Thousands flocked to the annual Roadkill Cooking Festival in Marlinton, W.Va., in September, featuring an array of "tasting" dishes (e.g., black bear, possum, elk, snapping turtle) with a competition in which judges deducted points if the "chef" had not managed to remove all gravel or asphalt.
In the name of research
Charles Foster, recent recipient of the "Ig Nobel" prize in biology and a fellow at Oxford University, has recently lived as a badger (inside a hole in Wales), an otter playing in rivers and an "urban fox" rummaging through garbage bins in London, in addition to a red deer and ("ridiculously," he admits) a migratory bird mapping treetop air currents — all in order to authentically experience those creatures' lives apart from their physical appearance, which is generally all that humans know. "We have five glorious senses," he told the Ig Nobel audience, and need to "escape the tyranny" of the visual. "Drop onto all fours," he recommended. "Sniff the ground. Lick a leaf."
Right on time with the rent
In October — as in supposedly every previous October since the 13th century — some British official arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice in London and paid rent to the queen for use of two properties — for the sum of "a knife, an ax, six oversized horseshoes and 61 nails," according to reporting by Atlas Obscura. "No one knows exactly where these two pieces of land are," the website reported, but one is in Shropshire County, and the other near the Royal Courts.
Walken keeps popping up
New York City sculptor Bryan Zanisnik, operating on a grant from an emerging-artist program of Socrates Sculpture Park in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens, recently created a 10-piece "garden" of concrete Christopher Walken heads to honor the actor, who grew up in Astoria. Said Zanisnik, "Perhaps the project suggests that Walken's DNA was imbued into the soil of Astoria, and now Walken mushrooms are growing everywhere."
A Better Business Bureau study in Canada found that, contrary to popular belief, it is the "millennial" generation and those aged 25 to 55, rather than seniors, who are more likely now to fall victim to scammers, fueled by users' lax skepticism about new technology. If accurate, the study would account for how a Virginia Tech student in September fell for a phone call from "the IRS" threatening her over "back taxes." She complied with instructions from the "agent" to send $1,762 in four iTunes gift cards.
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