Mental Floss

The Weird Week in Review

Miss Cellania
David Biggers
David Biggers / David Biggers

Giant Purple Chicken Stolen

Most thieves would try to hide their loot, but it was impossible in this case. What were they thinking? Three men were arrested in Putnam County, Florida, for stealing a 9-foot-tall purple chicken. The 660-pound aluminum statue stood guard over a honey stand owned by David Biggers until last Monday, when a neighbor heard a commotion. He went outside and saw a pickup truck dragging the chicken down the street -with one of the perpetrators riding on it! Witnesses and video evidence led police to the chicken, which had sustained extensive damage. The chicken is valued at $2,300. Darrin Luke Edwards, Tyler Lee Jones, and James Joseph Smith were charged with grand theft.

Toddler Buys Car on eBay

Sorella Stoute of Portland, Oregon, is 14 months old. While playing with her father's phone, the toddler pushed enough buttons to open eBay and purchase a 1962 Austin Healey. Her father, Paul Stoute, only found out about the transaction when he got an email confirming the deal. Both parents went into a panic, but then realized that the vehicle was only $225, and the seller was fairly local. So they decided to just keep the car. Stoute is considering restoring it for Sorella's 16th birthday. But he also installed facial recognition software on his phone.    

Bees Foil Carjacking in Sting Operation

Pay attention; this one is complicated. Two guys in a Lexus in Craighall, South Africa, witnessed a BMW hitting a Peugot in a hit-and-run and then followed the perpretrator. When the two cars stopped, the Lexus passenger got out to take pictures for evidence. Three men got out of the BMW. One of them jumped into the Lexus and pointed a gun at the driver. The Lexus driver hit the gas pedal and backed the car swiftly into a wall. The wall collapsed, and thousands of enraged bees swarmed from their hive behind the wall and into the Lexus. The three men from the BMW, which was found to be a stolen car, were last seen running down the street, pulling their clothing off. Emergency services responded and treated the two men from the Lexus for bee stings. The Lexus was a total wreck, the Peugot was badly damaged, and the wall sustained an estimated $10,000 in damage.  

Government Agency Smashes Computers to Get Rid of Viruses

A couple of years ago, the Department of Homeland Security notified NOAA (the weather agency) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) that they had a potential malware problem in their computer systems. The two agencies reacted in very different ways. NOAA isolated the problem and cleaned out the malware. That project took a few weeks. The EDA, however, cut its entire computer system off from the outside world, disabling email and causing the agency -and its database- to be inaccessible to its regional offices and other government agencies.

It then recruited in an outside security contractor to look for malware and provide assurances that not only were EDA's systems clean, but also that they were impregnable against malware. The contractor, after some initial false positives, declared the systems largely clean but was unable to provide this guarantee. Malware was found on six systems, but it was easily repaired by reimaging the affected machines.

EDA's CIO, fearing that the agency was under attack from a nation-state, insisted instead on a policy of physical destruction. The EDA destroyed not only (uninfected) desktop computers but also printers, cameras, keyboards, and even mice. The destruction only stopped—sparing $3 million of equipment—because the agency had run out of money to pay for destroying the hardware.

A report said that the malware was of a common type, and there was no evidence that the agencies were targeted for attack.

Homeless Man Under House Arrest

Domenico Codispoti was arrested for petty theft and drug charges in Milan, Italy, and was sentenced to two years of house arrest in 2006. But Codispoti is homeless, so the court did the best they could to carry out the sentence. Each night, Codispoti must be at the sidewalk at number 22 via Pisani, in his normal sleeping place by 9PM. He must stay in that spot until 7AM. Police patrols come by to make sure he is in his spot. If Codispoti leaves his assigned area, he will be arrested. This has happened a few times, such as the time he crossed the street to urinate. Each time he is sent to jail for a short time and released to more "house arrest" time. As it stands, Codispoti's sentence will be up in 2014. Unless he crosses the street again.

4-Year-Old Mayor Seeks Re-election

Dorset, Minnesota, has a population of 22 people. Those fine citizens are led by mayor Robert Tufts, known locally as Bobby, who became mayor last year when he was only three years old. During his tenure as mayor, Bobby helped to raise money for Ronald McDonald House charities. Bobby would like to be mayor for another year, but that's not really up to the voters of the unincorporated village. Each year, a mayor is chosen by raffle. Bobby, as the incumbent, gets to draw the name this year. Raffle tickets are $1 each, so the odds of winning can be manipulated somewhat.