An associate professor at East China University of Political Science and Law has advocated for polygamy, suggesting that “teachers at Chinese colleges and universities should be given ‘special treatment’ in marriage and as well as lifelong allowances,” according to the South China Morning Post. Bao Yinan was suspended after his comments, which he’d made on a social-media platform for friends, were leaked. Maybe that should be “friends.”
We don’t know for certain whether Ziona Chana, of the village of Baktawng, in India, ever taught at a Chinese university—it seems unlikely—but he and Bao Yinan were philosophically on the same page. Chana, who just died at 75, is survived by 39 wives, 94 children, and 33 grandchildren. “Chana belonged to a sect created by his grandfather which allowed polygamy for men,” according to The Times of London. “He married his first wife, Zathiangi, when he was 17. She still runs the show as the ‘head wife’. Then he married another woman, and then another. In one year he married ten times.” Bedroom arrangements chez Chana were on a rotating basis.
Except for daughters who married and moved out, the entire family lived in the same house, said the newspaper, a system that involved bunk beds, plywood partitions for privacy, and a common kitchen—everyone ate together. Stating the obvious, the BBC noted that Chana had suffered from hypertension.
Misty mountain hop, hop, hop: two researchers in the Ecuadoran Andes have discovered a new frog species and named it Pristimantis ledzeppelin (Led Zeppelin’s Rain Frog). “The name honours Led Zeppelin and their extraordinary music,” wrote David Brito-Zapata and Carolina Reyes-Puig in the journal Neotropical Biodiversity. “The new species is characterized by having skin on dorsum and flanks finely tuberculate to tuberculate, a distinctive scapular fold, skin on venter coarsely areolate; snout rounded with a small rostral papilla; discs on the digits truncate, three times the width of the digits; groin and hidden surfaces of thighs yellowish-cream with distinctive brownish-black marks and/or orange irregular blotches; and coppery red iris.” Also: miniature, high-waisted flared jeans.
It’s safe to say Australia has hit a rough patch. Since 2020, the country has endured severe floods, a drought, bushfires that killed or displaced three billion animals, and the requisite rampaging cannibalistic field mice that followed. Now, experts say, a mouse-epidemic-related infestation of snakes is imminent.
But nature, it turns out, was just clearing its throat. To residents of this southern Australian state, the universe must have suddenly seemed like a literal worldwide web: spiderwebs everywhere, some stretching for hundreds of miles and floating nearly two miles in the air. “Parks, paddocks and trees have been covered in the vast amounts of gossamer produced by millions of spiders as they scrambled to escape floods that hit the southern state of Victoria last week,” reported The Times of London. “Photos reminiscent of a horror film set showed the webs covering entire fields in rural areas, even encasing large trees…. The phenomenon is known as ballooning and occurs where wet and chilly weather conditions force spiders off the ground and to construct cloud-like webs for shelter and to escape rising waters.” It lasts only a few days—but that’s a long time for anyone to sustain their impression of Munch’s The Scream.
By 2028, a “flying ferry,” zipping along at 180 m.p.h., could be chopping the travel time for 150 passengers from Portsmouth to Cherbourg from four hours down to 40 minutes. “Brittany Ferries has revealed plans for a ‘sea glider,’” reported The Times of London. “The battery-powered craft is effectively a cross between a hydrofoil and a plane. It would launch from a conventional port then take off and fly at low altitude on a cushion of high-pressure air.” The sea gliders will save precious minutes on takeoffs and landings: their cruising altitude will be just a few yards above the English Channel.
When Nikhil Kamath, a financial-services billionaire, made quick work of the five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand in an online charity chess tournament, eyebrows were raised. With good reason. “Kamath, who has idolised Anand since he began learning chess as a child, admitted deploying a computer algorithm and a team of experts to help him win the 30-minute match,” according to The Times of London. Kamath was contrite: “In my head, it was just a fun game we amateurs were playing against the greatest chess champ from India to raise funds for charity,” he said. “But it still gives no excuse for what I did. It was wrong and I sincerely apologise.”
The thousand-year-old St. Sophia Cathedral, in Ukraine, contains important frescoes and murals—and some 7,000 examples of graffiti dating from the 11th to the 18th century, now compiled in a series of books based on recent research headed by Vyacheslav Kornienko, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Some of the wall etchings, such as a particularly thoughtful one from the 12th century—“As a mother can unwillingly hurt her child by enlightening them, so God enlightens a person by saddling them with trouble. A person whose mind has departed from the correct order of things shall be a vessel for all sins”—suggest that, as literature, the form has since gone into a decline.
Still, certain others—“Bohdan Kam…1625,” or a 1076 carving by “Petro” of a rather rudimentary duck—show that it’s really just a small step across the centuries to “Kilroy was here” and “Clapton is God.”
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL