What else happened in 2021?

Headlines in the media can be very same-ish these days, which is why we’ve spent the past year delving into world news stories with a difference. Here’s our roundup of some of the weirder events of 2021.


As rock-related news stories of 2021 go, this one takes the biscuit. A California gemologist named Mike Bowers revealed on Facebook on 16 January that a rare gemstone he’d bought from Brazil had a cross-section that was a dead ringer for the googly-eyed Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. The blue Muppet weighed in on the subject, tweeting: “Me no geologist, but me think dat rock look a lot like me…”


In February, owners of Cronkshaw Fold Farm in Lancashire, UK, revealed they had earnt £50,000 (HK$440,000) by renting out goats for Zoom calls. It’s a simple service: for £6, you select a time, a date and the goat of your choice from the farm, and said goat will turn up on screen for five minutes during your business video call or family get-together. As one farmer said: “It beats selling manure.” No kidding.


If you’ve got a child who loves a playground swing and keeps asking you for “one more push”, they’ve got nothing on Kiwi teenager Patrick Cooper. In March, he set a new Guinness World Record for the longest time on a swing, racking up 36 hours in a playground in Napier, NZ. Typically for the Land of the Long White Cloud, his attempt included plenty of rain and wind, yet Patrick wouldn’t be deterred.


A park in Lincoln, Nebraska, became a giant battleground in April, as hundreds of people, all with the first name Josh, gathered to fight for the right to their name. A fellow called Josh Swain had set the challenge, and Joshes from around the country answered the call. The battle was fought with pool noodles, and five-year-old Joshua Vinson Jr was the last man – erm, boy – standing at the end.


In May, it was reported that UKbased The Tail Company would soon start manufacturing a new product called miTail. You wear the Bluetooth enabled animatronic tail and control it by smartphone – if you’re happy, you can wag your mechanical appendage, or use other movements to express different emotions. As the company says, “Get your rear in gear!”


We’re not sure if there’s any legal precedent for this, but a cooking recipe has been found tucked away in a piece of Belgian legislation relating to medical supplies and drug prices. While nobody is entirely sure how the rogue recipe – which was a sixstep method for preparing white asparagus gratin – got into the official database, several ideas are simmering.


Every four years, there’s a news story on the number of condoms supplied to the athletes’ village at the Olympics. With the pandemic rampant in Tokyo in 2021, the packets remained largely unopened. That’s unless you’re Australian kayaker Jess Fox, who used an Olympics-issue condom to repair her kayak before taking out bronze and gold medals. “It gives the carbon a smooth finish,” she said.


In Singapore, animal welfare group ACRES was called out to a job when a woman in Jurong reported hearing an angry hissing sound in her home – possibly the warning noises of a Black spitting cobra. After an hour’s search, the team discovered the much more innocuous culprit: the buzzing of a faulty pink electric toothbrush.


When a Danish museum gave artist Jens Haaning the equivalent of S$115,000 to prepare two artworks for an exhibition, they perhaps expected a splash of paint for their payment. But Haaning sent back two blank canvases, which he titled “Take the Money and Run”. The museum hung the pieces nevertheless, saying that the artist had prepared a provocative new piece of art.


If you suffer from arachnophobia, you’re not alone. It turns out that our hairy eight-legged friends are also scared of each other. The British Ecological Society revealed in October that spiders recognise the threat of other spiders – particularly larger ones – and will scurry away even when faced with static objects made to look like a spider. (Don’t worry, spiders; we do the same.)


A gold ring with a purple stone, dug up by archaeologists in Israel and dating to between the 3rd and 7th century, is believed to have been worn to ward of the effects of too much booze. The ring, whose stone is thought to be amethyst, was found in the ruins of an ancient wine factory known for its white Gaza variety of vino.


Finally, an Aussie bloke has let rip in Darwin and broken a decade old Guinness World Record for the world’s loudest burp. His gassy outburst measured 112.4 decibels, beating the previous 109.9 held by Brit Paul Hunn. That’s loads louder than an electric drill (85 decibels) and only just shy of the average rock concert (120 decibels). You can hear the triumphant belch at guinnessworldrecords.com. Visit the Expat Living website for more weird and wonderful features.

Explore the Expat Living website for more weird and wonderful features.

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