Here’s a twist on getting in the last word: some Australians are hiring Bill Edgar, a former private investigator, to crash their funerals, when the time comes, and deliver messages and revelations from beyond the grave—not all of them necessarily welcome to the assembled mourners. Some examples from The Times of London: one man had Edgar reveal that his wealth came not from admirable hard work but from having secretly won the lottery; another asked him to interrupt the eulogy being delivered by his best friend and accuse the man of having tried to sleep with his wife; and a woman paid Edgar to show up at her funeral and mention to the mourners that, by the way, she’d had affairs with both of her partner’s parents. These footnotes to a life are entertaining and, sure, more than a little anxiety-producing—and all for just $6,500.
If a new law proposed by Germany’s agricultural minister passes, dog owners will be required to walk their pets twice a day for a total of an hour’s time, to give the animals—and presumably the humans—more exercise and stimulation. The so-called Dogs Act (Hundeverordnung) has, for all kinds of reasons, gone over like a lead balloon (Bleiballon?). For one thing, good luck enforcing that law in a country with 9.4 million dogs—one in five households.
Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi is back. Actually, according to Thailand’s royal family, she never really went away. Eleven months ago, the 35-year-old mistress of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 68, had been accused of “disloyalty” and purged from the royal court. Now all that has been erased from the official record—actually, miraculously, as of now it never even happened—and the former nurse is again in the good graces of Thailand’s mercurial, less-than-beloved king. (Vajiralongkorn, notes The Times of London, has a reputation “as a violent-tempered womanizer who spends almost all his time living with his wife, as well as his consort, at a luxury hotel in southern Germany.”) Many Thais are up in arms—something about a lack of accountability—and the fact of the protests (marches, demands) is extraordinary for a country where mild criticism of the monarchy can land you in prison for many years. One exiled former diplomat told The Times he fears that “a state crackdown is looming.”
According to Italian media, a French tourist has been fined $1,200 for liberating about four pounds of pristine Sardinian sand from the Italian island. Even though Sardinia’s sands are a protected resource, this is apparently a chronic problem, at least when it comes to the French: just a year ago, a couple were arrested as they were about to board a ferry to Toulon with some 90 pounds of choice beach grains in their car.
Excellent news from the University of Bristol for picnickers, especially Scottish ones. While examining the effectiveness of the zebra pattern in keeping flies at bay, researchers stumbled onto another deterrent, this one specific to horseflies: check patterns, and lots of them. In short, get out the tartans. And while this wasn’t specifically addressed in the Bristol study, one wonders whether going further down that road and incorporating, say, a little bagpipe practice into the picnic might prove an even more wide-ranging repellent.
Pompeians’ remarkable technological innovations didn’t stop with aqueducts and central heating: apparently, they also recycled. Archaeologists have concluded that piles of ceramic, plaster, and other materials were carefully lined outside along one of the city’s walls as well as in other locations, reports The Guardian, and were likely re-purposed for use in construction. “We found that part of the city was built out of trash,” said one researcher. O.K., who put the newspaper in the plastics bin again? Lucius Betutius Placidus, please tell us it wasn’t you.
The time-honored OCCUPIED/VACANT sign on public toilets has been nudged a little closer to obsolescence. With transparency all the rage, it’s not entirely shocking that see-through toilets are being introduced in public parks in Tokyo. “Public toilets in Shibuya like you’ve never seen,” notes the Tokyo Toilet Project of the 5 inaugural outhouse posts, scheduled to grow to 17 by spring, according to The Guardian. Leading designers are using “smart glass” that turns from clear to opaque when the door is locked, the idea being that potential customers will know what they’re getting into, as it were. Once inside? Just lock the door, leave the rest to the “smart glass,” and relax. Oh, sure. Has the word “glitch” ever sounded so terrifying?
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for Air Mail