News can be very odd sometimes

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.

Rome earthquake
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?

Morgellons
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.

Bees
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.

About Frank Norman

I am a librarian in a biomedical research institute. I've been around a few years, long enough to know that exciting new things fall into the same familiar patterns. I'm interested in navigating a path for libraries as we slip from print through to electronic information resources.
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7 Responses to News can be very odd sometimes

  1. ricardipus says:

    Ah, I love this kind of thing. Always nice to find the ridiculous among the sublime, or serious.

    I know have a mental image of some thug wearing a Jane Austen-era, ruffled bonnet with a pretty ribbon tied under the chin.

    On the earthquake/prediction front, there was until recently a large billboard not far from where I’m sitting proclaiming that Judgment Day was coming on some date or other (toward the end of March as I recall). I’m not sure if it arrived or not, or if anyone was judged, but that particular advertisement has since been replaced by something a little less religious, like a Guess ad or something. I’m vaguely disappointed.

  2. ricardipus says:

    Bah. “Now”. I “now” have a mental image.

  3. cromercrox says:

    Perhaps you could merge all three stories, saying that the threat of earthquakes makes people come out in hives?

  4. Steve Caplan says:

    Chief suspect: Israeli PM (Benjamin) “Bibi” Netanyahu.
    Reason: Wants to learn the “waggle dance” between coalition partners
    I break out in hives every time i hear him speak…

  5. Frank says:

    Richard – Yes, ‘bonnet’ seems an odd word, unless it’s a technical term used by bee-keepers. Bee-net, maybe. And on the subject of terrible puns …

    Henry – Grrroan! I think subconsiously I knew there was a synthesis of all three to be made but I’d not been able to reach it. Thanks for bringing that to the surface.

    Steve – in the UK we’re seeing quite a ‘waggle dance’ between our own coalition partners at the moment. I just hope it will end in them finding a rich store of food somewhere.

  6. csrster says:

    Perhaps they meant “bunnet”?

  7. I really, really wish I hadn’t read the Morgellons article; I’m all itchy now!