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The Tech Revolution 

A weekly roundup of international news oddities

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The Tech Revolution
Talk about taking your gaming seriously. Palmer Luckey, a defense contractor and, according to Vice, the father of modern virtual reality, has invented a VR headset that literally presents a life-or-death outcome. Inspired by the NerveGear VR headsets in the anime Sword Art Online, Luckey's headset features three explosive charge modules that detonate and instantly destroy the user's head if the user dies during gameplay. "Pumped-up graphics might make a game look more real, but only the threat of serious consequences can make a game feel real to you and every other person in the game," Luckey said. He admits, though, that he needs to keep tinkering: "There are a huge variety of failures that could occur and kill the user at the wrong time. This is why I have not worked up the (nerve) to actually use it myself. At this point, it is just ... a thought-provoking reminder of unexplored avenues in game design."

Money To Burn
A pair of "well used" Birkenstock sandals once worn by Steve Jobs has sold at auction for almost $220,000, the Associated Press reported. The brown suede sandals, which date to the mid-1970s, retain "the imprint of Steve Jobs' feet," the auction said in describing the listing. The buyer was not named. Jobs' home in Los Altos, California, where he and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple, is now a historic landmark.

Ironies
• The Buckingham and Villages Community Board in England admitted that the irony was running thick when, on Nov. 15, it had to cancel a program about protecting your home from flood damage due to heavy rains in the area. The board hoped to provide residents with demonstrations of flood resilience equipment and what to do in case of a deluge, according to the BBC. "However, it was due to take place outside in pouring rain and high winds, so there was concern ... that people would not turn out for this important event," the BVCB said. "A new date will be arranged as soon as possible."

• In Norway, energy firm Equinor produced its first energy from floating wind turbines on Nov. 13, CNBC reported. The installation, called Hywind Tampen, lies about 87 miles off the coast of Norway, with 11 total turbines, four of which will come online in 2023. Ironically, the turbines will be used to produce energy for Equinor's oil and gas fields in the North Sea. "This is a unique project, the first wind farm in the world powering producing oil and gas installations," said Geir Tungesvik, the company's executive vice president for projects, drilling and procurement.

The Continuing Crisis
Marine biologists in the Cayman Islands are desperately searching for a nurse shark that is sporting a mesh bag around its middle, the Daily Star reported. The "skirt" is blocking the shark's gills, effectively choking it. The Department of Environment said they are "doing our best to locate and assist him but so far, we've been unsuccessful." A scuba diver initially spotted the animal, but he didn't have the tools he needed to cut the bag away.

Least Competent Criminal
Police in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, were able to easily identify a carjacker who followed a woman off a bus at a park-and-ride on Nov. 1, WTAE reported. When they located her stolen car a couple of hours later, the people inside hopped out and ran away—but one of the thieves left their identity behind via the Bluetooth iPhone connection in the car. "Darrells iPhone" turned up on the car's list of devices, and a security guard at Westinghouse High School identified Darrell Cammon Jr., 19, from a surveillance video on the bus. Cammon and another suspect are still at large.

Shade
Byron and Christie Jefferies started dating in 2007 while attending Clemson University, WYFF reported. Through the ensuing 15 years, they stayed together as they lost parents, attended grad school and moved for jobs. So when they married on Oct. 15 in South Carolina, Christie couldn't help but throw a little shade: As she opened a piece of paper with her vows on it, she blew off a layer of dust. Christie calls her marriage to Byron a "home run."

Night of the Living Poodle
On Oct. 29, as Kathrin Burleson and a friend walked Burleson's 13-year-old corgi, Emma, at Trinidad State Beach in California, a pack of 10 standard poodles burst from a nearby car and raced toward them, the Mad River Union reported. Burleson leaned down to pick up Emma, but she wriggled out of Burleson's arms just as the pack attacked. "I thought Emma and I were going to be killed," Burleson said. To make things even weirder, during the incident, Burleson felt her finger being bitten, but when she looked up, it was the poodles' owner, Frank Mallatt, who had her finger in his mouth. Mallatt later told her he thought he was biting one of his dogs. Emma was severely injured and underwent emergency surgery, from which she is still healing. Mallatt reportedly owns a service dog company that, according to the website, places dogs "with children at little to no cost through the help of donations and volunteers."

It's Come to This
Brandy Bottone of Plano, Texas, who argued successfully in June that her unborn fetus qualified her to drive in the HOV lane, is now the namesake of House Bill 521 in Texas' 2023 legislative session, MSN reported. The Brandy Bill, introduced by state Rep. Briscoe Cain, states that a pregnant driver "is entitled to use any HOV lane in the state." Texas penal code stipulates that an unborn child is considered a person "at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth." If the Brandy Bill is signed into law, it will take effect in September.

End of an Era
Coventry Club, a 46-acre campground in Milton, Vermont, that's been a haven for nudists for almost 60 years, is closing at the end of the season, WCAX-TV reported. "Our second day here, we fell in love with the place and the people," said camper Gentle Bear. The owners are going to retire, and the land was sold to a family. Vermont's unusual laws about nudity allow flashing the birthday suit in public—but you can't take off your clothes in public. "This is the only place like this in the Northeast and maybe in the U.S.," said Mark Ozenich, who first visited the park 20 years ago. Good times.

Bright Idea
Residents of the Capitol Hill area of Seattle took matters into their own hands after not getting any satisfaction from the city, KOMO-TV reported. Someone painted a crosswalk at the intersection of E. Olive Way and Harvard Avenue E., but on Nov. 16, the Seattle Department of Transportation removed the unauthorized stripes, saying, "Improperly painted crosswalks give a false sense of safety which puts pedestrians in danger. There are better ways for people to work with us." David Seater, co-leader of Central Seattle Greenways, called it "frustrating" that the city can move so quickly to remove the rogue crosswalk but "it can take years if not decades or never, frankly, to get crosswalks and other safety improvements installed." SDOT said it would evaluate the intersection to see how the unauthorized crossing might be replaced.

Send your weird news items to WeirdNewsTips@amuniversal.com

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