Archive for January, 2011



A train engine that is also a vacuum cleaner. The most logical thing in the world. Anyone would have thought of it.


New Weird News Tab


You may notice a new navigation tab at the top of the home page: Weird News. I am trying to pick up odd and weird stories from across the country. There is already a small collection there. Please help add to this. I will harvest from the comments and add it to the page.


Difference between your ass and elbow


There are some updates to the Dubai-Pune Air India flight which had a near plunge into the Arabian Sea. This seems to be literally a case of not knowing one’s ass from one’s elbow.

The co-pilot of an Air India Express 737 sent the jetliner into a terrifying 7,000-foot plunge in May when he accidentally hit the control column while adjusting his seat, investigators report.


Twenty five men suffer from ‘retracting’ genitalia


It does not get weirder than this

Several labourers living in a work camp near Aarey Colony in Goregaon have been spending sleepless nights since Saturday after they found that the size of their genitals have been gradually reducing and getting inside the lower abdomen (Koro: see box). The panicked sit in a bathtub and family members pour water on them to cure them.


House of horror


A tantrik, his wife and five disciples have been arrested in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, for sacrificing a two-year-old boy in the belief that it would bring them wealth, police said on Thursday, adding this may not be the first such killing by him.

Nuff said.


Clubbed to death


And then the story gets weird

A twice-divorced boutique owner and mother of three clobbered her live-in partner, six years her junior, to death after he objected to her relations with another man.

Sources said the body lay at her residence for 24 hours even as she went about cleaning the room and destroying evidence. Shehnaz contacted her brothers in the morning and the body was moved to sector 26 by the three accused on the night of October 6 and disposed of in a nearby tank.


Indian tea tastes different due to climate change


What can climate change not do?

The numbers are stark. Assam produced 564,000 tons of tea in 2007, slipping to 487,000 tons in 2009. The 2010 crop was estimated to be about 460,000 tons, said Dhiraj Kakaty, who heads the Assam Branch Indian Tea Association, an umbrella group of some 400 tea plantations..

But even more disturbing for growers is the change in the brew’s taste. They want the government to fund scientific studies to examine the flavor fallout from climate change.


Wish they could be rat catchers too


The Associated Press helpfully tells us the story of India’s rat catchers. The headline is from this line in the story: “Sheikh’s father is also a rat catcher. His brothers sell vegetables from a cart and wish they could be rat catchers too.” These guys are envied for their steady pay check, which can amount to Rs. 12,000 per month if they meet their quota! That is (the article says) just a little less than what a bus driver or call centre worker makes. Fascinating, if a little morbid reading. It also shows how much further we need to progress as a country.

The competition for rat catcher jobs in Mumbai is stiff. Only men aged 18 to 30 need apply. They must be able to lift a 50 kilogram (110 pound) sack and run a few kilometers (miles). They must demonstrate their ability to catch and kill a rat in the dark within ten minutes.

Each rat catcher must kill 30 rats a night, six nights a week. If he doesn’t make the quota, he doesn’t get paid.

Arun Bamne of the city’s insecticide department, which oversees the rat-catching, says people badly need jobs. The last time the city recruited, he said, over 4,000 people — some with university degrees — applied for 33 rat catcher positions.

Joining the war on rats does not lead, with time and diligence, to a desk job in a fan-cooled administrative office. After half a dozen years, a man might be moved to the day shift, laying traps and setting poison bait. But there is little else to look forward to.


Controversial topic of the day


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch spends 1000 words on the controversial topic of whether the earth has four or five oceans. This is obviously important as Ladue Middle School earth science teacher Kathy Murphy explains “resistance to accepting the notion of the Southern Ocean to opposition regarding a change in Pluto’s status.”

This is a serious issue and need debating. The National Geographic Society refuses to recognize this as does the US. Good for them. We can’t have oceans declaring themselves independent. What about school books? What about quizzes?

Won’t someone think of the children?

By the way, did you know that Greenland is an independent country? It retains some relationship to Denmark, but it has self-rule. With a population of about 50,000 (or in Mumbai terms, 10 local trains) and a parliament of 31 members with multi-party democracy, it has to be crazy holding elections there. Polls probably open during lunch hour and everyone gets together to celebrate in the evening. The coat of arms of the country is a polar bear with its tongue sticking out.


Right to invade


What gives one country the right to invade another? What if a resident of one country committed an act of terrorism in another? Does that give the second country a right to attack the first? Consider this:

A terrorist or group of terrorists blows up an airplane flying from country A and everyone on board is killed. A man from country B is alleged to be the head terrorist. He lives in country C. The government of country A has no extradition treaty with the government of country C. However, the government of country B, where the alleged terrorist is a citizen, does have such a treaty with country C and attempts to extradite him. Country C’s government, however, refuses to extradite him, and the alleged terrorist is free to live in country C.

Does country C’s unwillingness to extradite the alleged terrorist justify country B’s government bombing or invading country C?

You would imagine A=The USA, B= Saudi Arabia and C=Afghanistan. But the answer is surprisingly A=Cuba, B=Venezuela and C=The USA.

Think of this for a moment. What about India and Pakistan? Maybe B=USA for Headley. The linked article is worth reading if only for one line: 92% of Afghanis polled had no idea what 9/11 was. I would imagine a higher proportion of Americans don’t know about the Cuban aircraft incident. What does it say about invading people who are not responsible to get at one man?

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