Society

The Barber Of Amsterdam? Dutch Culture Sector's Hair-Razing COVID Protest

Theaters, museums and cinemas welcomed "essential services" on their stage floors to make a point about the industry's struggles during the latest COVID lockdown.

It’s an unusual sight even in these unusual times: in the Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam's prestigious concert hall, a man sits on stage getting his hair cut. Behind him, an orchestra plays Charles Ives' Symphony no. 2. In front of him, dozens of people are watching — both the orchestra, and to see when it's their turn for the next haircut.

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Italy's High Court: Loud Toilet Flush Is Violation Of Human Rights

A not-so-neighborly Italian saga that extends from the porcelain depths of our most basic needs to the altar of European justice.

An Italian couple has won a two-decade-long court battle that invoked an international treaty signed after World War II in order to prove the acceptable volume of a toilet flush.

The ordeal started as a typical neighborhood quarrel, yet spanned nearly two decades and eventually made its way up to Italy's Highest Court this week, Rome daily La Repubblica reports.

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A Weird 2021 : Our Favorite "What The World" Stories

Tales of odds and ends from deep inside the world's newspapers....


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Weird
Rozena Crossman

French Antique Tale: A Father’s Christmas Gift From 1946 Cycles Back To Owner

Not your average case of lost and found.

Joseph Carayon was ten years old in 1946, living in the small southern French town of Abeilhan, when his father gave him a bicycle for Christmas. As a newly freed prisoner of war, the father had cobbled the bike together from spare parts, making for a particularly special Christmas gift.

But when he came of age, Joseph began riding a moped and lent the bike to a friend, and never saw it again. Until a brocanteur — a French antiques dealer — regifted the long-lost vehicle to Joseph a month ago.

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Weird
Laure Gautherin

Public Sector Trolls? 7 "Institutional" Social Media Accounts That Let It Rip

The Ukraine government’s official Twitter account is using memes and GIFs to poke Moscow and draw attention to the risk of a Russian invasion. It is one of just a few institutional accounts that has decided not to be careful

From good humor to hate speech, you can find just about anything on social media. And it’s not just entertainers, or the anonymously angry: Our would-be public servants of the world have long since jumped into the fray, with provocateur presidents from Donald Trump to Jair Bolsonaro to Rodrigo Duterte.

But Twitter and Facebook and Instagram are also full of plenty of painfully careful (though sometimes very useful) accounts of public institutions, from offices of the prime minister to national weather services to local police stations.

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Weird

Erotic Waffle Shop In Spain Under Fire For Genitalia Nativity Scene

The racy pastry scene in the holiday shop window in the city of Seville is no joking matter in the traditional Catholic country. Now "Josephallus" and family might land this local wafflemaker in court.

La Vergueria is a small shop located in the heart of old Seville and its specialty is waffles — erotic waffles, to be more precise. Their desserts are shaped either into vaginas (vergofre) or penises (chochofre) and covered in the topping of your choice. Their unusual menu, which gained them some national notoriety and steady LGBTQ+ support, also includes other kind or sexually-referenced sweets, such as boob-shaped lollipops or fruit-flavored ice pop penises for summer.

On normal days, La Vergueria's window is decorated with an assortment of random stuffed genitalia, but as Christmas approached this year, the owner went for a very un-traditional nativity scene with his X-rated products. So now in the store window, passersby see a "Josephallus" and "Vagina Mary" looking over the little holy one.

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Weird

When Public Statues Go Very Wrong

This giant chicken will attract tourists! Let's honor a heroine of our history with a see-through dress! And other very visible bad ideas around the world...

From Mount Rushmore to Lenin's statue at Saint Petersburg’s Finland Station, political legacies have long been carved into stone, literally. But sometimes the vanity or silliness driving such projects turns them into monumental WTFs. That was undoubtedly the case last month in the U.S. state of Georgia, where a local mayor was ousted from office after pushing through a project to build a giant chicken as a way to attract tourists to this town.

But the list of grandiose ideas that fell flat, or worse, is long: from the racy likeness of an Italian heroine to the immortalizing of a corrupt African leader who isn't even from your country.

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Weird
Alidad Vassigh and Irene Caselli

Did An Argentine Landowner Bulldoze To Death Hundreds Of Penguins?

Between 300 and 500 birds (not to mention eggs and chicks) are thought to have died near a natural reserve, potentially all because of a land dispute.

PUNTA TOMBO, ARGENTINA — A resident of the southern Argentine province of Chubut has been charged under animal cruelty laws for allegedly bulldozing over and electrocuting hundreds of penguins from the Punta Tombo natural reserve, home to the world's largest colony of Magellanic penguins.

As Argentina daily Clarín reports, a possible land dispute within the property neighboring Punta Tombo may be the cause behind the death of between 300 and 500 Magellanic penguins, and the destruction of dozens of nests and countless eggs.

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Weird
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

Micronations, A World Tour Of 8 Bizzaro Spots Barely On The Map

A journey through the unlikely phenomenon of microstates, which have been founded on nothing more than a personal whim or nothing less than a diehard political stance.

Taiwanese businessman James Chang has been mired in a long battle with municipal authorities over what he sees as "excessive" taxes on the hotel he owns on the eastern coast of Australia.

So when all traditional legal and political means have been exhausted, what do you do?

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Weird
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Poopgate: Is Beloved Istanbul Street Dog Caught In Turkey’s Political Dirty Tricks?

Boji the dog was giving a good image to Istanbul's public transportation system. Some wonder if opponents of the mayor exercised the canine nuclear option...

Boji, a street dog in Istanbul, has garnered national and international acclaim in recent weeks for his ability to navigate the Turkish megapolis all on his own — commuting on the metro, riding ferries and even taking elevators.

According to Getty Images photographer Chris McGrath, who followed him around the city, Boji loves riding the city's trams and trains. The dog's name comes from the word "bogie" ("boji" in Turkish), the framework of a vehicle that houses the wheel and axle, since his favorite spot is sitting on top of the bogie and feeling the vibrations of the engine.

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food / travel

"Terminal" Saga, Argentine Student Stuck In Madrid Airport Since August

Reminiscent of the Tom Hanks movie The Terminal, an Argentine student has been "living" in the Madrid international airport for months after changing her return flight to Argentina in the middle of the pandemic and running out of money.

MADRID — It's ripe for a Kafkaesque movie script, with no happy ending so far for a 24-year-old Argentine student who has been sharing on social media her saga about being stuck in Madrid's Barajas airport since August. Milagros Almeida has described a perfect storm of pandemic-related restrictions and bureaucracy, on top of a serious problem of excess luggage, that has left her broke and stranded at Europe's second largest airport.

Recalling the Steven Spielberg-directed movie The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks, Almeida says she has been eating and washing at the airport, buying what she can to survive.

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Weird

Iconic Italian Car's Rusty License Plate Brings Lottery Gold

A car that became famous in Italy because it had been parked in the same spot since 1974 helped bring some luck to a Sicilian shopkeeper.

We humans have a thing for old cars. We also appreciate a prime parking spot. But what do you do if you find a nice old car occupying the same parking spot for 47 years? Well, you jot down its license plate number for good luck! Let us explain...

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Future
Paul Molga

Pokemon, Magic As NFTs: How Tech Fuels Trading Cards Market

The heroic fantasy universes of the 1990s have become a new focus of investment. One card in the mega-popular Magic series recenty sold for more than $500,000, and with the introduction of blockchain technology, the market looks to expand even more.

Playing cards illustrated by the greatest science fiction and "heroic fantasy" artists of the moment, the blockchain to make them unique digital works, and a series of novels to accompany the story… Welcome to the fairytale universe of Cross the Ages.

Conceived by the young Marseille-based startupper Sami Chlagou, who is already behind a video game distribution and production company, this project aims to turn a generation's passion for trading cards and role-playing games into a business as disruptive and speculative as the cryptocurrency market.

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WHAT THE WORLD
Anne-Sophie Goninet

Magnet Fisherman Finds Cartier And Bulgari Treasures At Bottom Of French Canal

Magnet fishing isn't what it might sound like. The pastime has nothing to do with pulling in big fish, but rather hooking treasures thanks to a long rope and a strong neodymium magnet cast into your local (polluted) body of water.

The usual catches are hardly shiny trophies: discarded bicycles, shopping carts, tools, old boots, nuts and bolts, and other debris that have been rusting at the bottom of a pond, river or lake for years. (Yes, the hobby is also ecological!)

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WHAT THE WORLD
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

No More Monkey Business: Antwerp Zoo Bans Woman From Seeing Her Chimp Chum

"He loves me and I love him. Why would you take that away?"

There's only so much monkeying around the Antwerp Zoo will tolerate. Belgian woman Adie Timmermans learned this recently, having developed what she called a special "relationship" with Chita, a 38-year-old chimpanzee whom she visited almost every day for four years. Zoo authorities now think the bond might have grown too strong and decided to ban Timmermans from visiting her monkey friend.

Whenever Timmermans came to the zoo, Chita would walk over to the glass enclosure, blowing kisses and scratching his head. So why separate the interspecies pals? Sarah Lafaut, the zoo's mammal curator, tells Belgian news channel ATV that Chita ended up paying too much attention to Timmermans and was at risk of being excluded from his primate peers.

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