Did You Get a Packet of Seeds in the Mail From China? Don't Open It

Mysterious seeds are showing up in mailboxes in at least seven states.
Mysterious seeds are showing up in mailboxes in at least seven states.
temmuzucan/iStock via Getty Images

History will never reflect on the year 2020 as uneventful. For some residents of Washington, Louisiana, Kansas, Virginia, Utah, Arizona, and Ohio, it’s getting a bit weirder than usual.

According to The New York Times, citizens in these states have been receiving unsolicited packets of seeds in the mail that appear to have been shipped from China. Agricultural officials are warning people not to plant the seeds, as they may potentially prove invasive to local plant life.

The seeds typically arrive in a white package, with Chinese lettering and the words “China Post” on the mailer. In Kansas, Washington, and possibly in other locations, the packages were labeled to indicate they contained jewelry.

The peculiar shipments are a problem because there’s no way of knowing whether the seeds contain pathogens harmful to plants or insects that could disrupt local agriculture.

Law enforcement in Ohio has also speculated that the seeds are part of a strategy by unscrupulous online vendors to generate positive reviews for their business or product by shipping inexpensive items, then submitting a rating of the “transaction.” With a positive sales history, these sellers might go on to perpetuate scams.

Whatever the motive, it’s best to dispose of the seeds or contact the relevant state agricultural department or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

[h/t The New York Times]

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Help Independent Cinemas by Entering This 'Sweded' Short Film Festival

Anyone can make a short 'sweded' film, like this one based on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
Anyone can make a short 'sweded' film, like this one based on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
Row House Cinema

In the 2008 film Be Kind, Rewind, Jack Black and company recreated some of their favorite films on VHS using a no-budget approach. Known as “sweding,” the technique has caught on, and now you can enter a short film of your own in a festival that has the added benefit of helping independent cinemas struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sweded Festival for Creative Re-Creations is organized by Row House Cinema and was once relegated to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area. Now it’s open to submissions from around the country. Entrants are asked to make a short (three- to five-minute) film paying homage to their favorite Hollywood movies using whatever locations and props they can find.

Previous entries have included takes on Alien, E.T., and The Princess Bride. Here’s a “sweded” version of Jaws:

The entries will be evaluated by a team of judges and the winners selected for inclusion in a full-length collection that will be broadcast in January 2021 to select independent cinemas and digital cinemas. (A cash prize is also awarded.) A portion of ticket sales will go to financial relief for cinemas affected by the pandemic.

You can enter online through December 31.