Three news stories this week made my jaw drop, my eyes widen, and my reservoirs of mirth overflow (though not all at once). Maybe they shouldn’t make me laugh but these stories are just rather odd.
The BBC website stated earlier in the week that:
Thousands of people are reported to be staying out of Rome for the next few days, over fears the city will be hit by a huge earthquake. The panic was sparked by rumours that seismologist Raffaele Bendandi, who died in 1979, predicted the city would be devastated by a quake on 11 May.
Others say there is no evidence that Bendandi ever made such a prediction, much less that the prediction was correct. The Spoof, a satire site, ran a humorous version of the story. Now that 11 May has passed with no news of any Roman earthquake (though there was one sadly in Spain) those people who fled the city must be feeling a bit stupid. OTOH, if someone says there is going to be an earthquake perhaps it is rational to flee?
Even stranger was the story in the Guardian about an alleged epidemic of itching. Sufferers claim that the itching is a result of morgellons syndrome, though they are not clear what causes it – the article suggested alien matter, fungus and parasites among other things. Others suggest that a more likely explanation is DOP, or Delusion of Parasitosis. The Guardian article is a bit sensationalist, to my mind. It has a very long comments thread, mostly poking fun. Wikipedia has a reasonaby calm piece about Morgellons, noting the role of the internet in spreading belief in the condition. I note that there is even a Morgellons Research Foundation.
The Nature News blog had the story of the stolen bees:
Several thousand lab honeybees were stolen from a facility outside a Scottish hospital on Sunday…Two middle-aged men in a white van were seen pulling up beside the hives … clearly whoever did this knows what they were doing and how to handle bees. One of the suspects also sported a bonnet.
A bonnet??? That just sounds a bit odd to me. And then NatureNews did a naughty thing, finishing their story with:
No word on whether the police plan to organise a sting.
Well, that sent the comments into a frenzy of pun-making:
- I just can’t bee-lieve it.
- This story is sure to create a huge buzz
- I already read this story on the Bee Bee C.
- The police should trap the miscreants responsible for this crime using a honey trap.
It’s nice to know that the world can be such a surprising place.