Funny old world: The week’s offbeat news

Your weekly roundup of offbeat stories from around the world
Mar 31, 2023


From cooking while drunk to why humans may one day figure out smartphones. Your weekly roundup of offbeat stories from around the world.

- Phones smart, humans no so much -

It is hard not to warm to Martin Cooper despite the fact that he invented the mobile phone.

“I am devastated when I see somebody crossing the street looking at their cell phone. They are out of their minds,” the American engineer told AFP.

He’s 94 now but is just as tech savvy as the day he made the first ever mobile phone call – to his rival at Bell.

“There was silence on the other end of the line. I think he was gritting his teeth.”

Indeed, Cooper uses his top-of-the-line iPhone to control his hearing aids, and – in a quaint touch – to talk to people.

But he’s not overly worried that his invention has turned people into stooped, accident-prone zombies.

“When television first came out, people were just hypnotised.

“Right now, we’re at the mindless staring phase with our phones,” he said. “But that won’t last.

“Humans sooner or later figure it out. Each generation is going to be smarter.”

- Drunk in charge of a pan -

Not necessarily, as New Zealand firefighters can tell you. They have written a recipe book to try to stop high or drunken late-night cooks burning down the house.

About a quarter of fires are caused by cookers being left on, more often than not by someone who has partied a bit too hard.

One of their no-brainer recipes to sate the munchies is a toasted sandwich – a piece of toast between two slices of bread.

The idea is to steer woozy cooks towards toasters, air-fryers and microwaves, which all have timers.

The only slight problem is that readers need to be sober enough to read the recipes in “Your Cooked”.

- Cocaine hippos -

Colombia is still paying in every sense of the word for its most notorious drug baron, Pablo Escobar.

The late cocaine lord once brought a small herd of hippos for his private zoo, as you do. The dangerous and sometimes deadly African beasts have since gone forth and multiplied, with 150 of them now roaming the Antioquia region.

Having failed in a bid to sterilise them, Colombia is now having to spend $3.5 million on sending 70 of them to sanctuaries overseas.

- Grounded -

A Cambodian man who has never flown has spent his life savings building a house shaped like a private jet.

Chrach Peou’s concrete “plane” now sits in a paddy field near the famed Angkor Wat temple complex.

“This has been my dream since I was young,” the 43-year-old widower told AFP.

“We can live here, sleep here and have meals here,” he said of his two-bedroom, two-bathroom pride and joy.

He charges people $1 to take selfies inside.

“When I have money and know where I want to go, I will take a plane to go there,” he beamed.



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