In Case You Missed It… Assorted Oddities from Around the Web

Esquire Not Cool with Dog Walking Drones

Commenting on a video posted on Vimeo last weekend by Jeff Myers, Esquire Digital Associate Editor John Hendrickson opined that while dogs are cool and drones are cool, walking dogs with drones is not. “Sure, on the surface, it’s kind of cool,” he concedes, but he ultimately finds subcontracting dog walks a disservice to both involved parties – or less so involved, at least for one as he suggests is the case.

“Your walks are the highlight of his day, your special time to bond and breathe and explore together…You stared at a screen all (deleted) day; you don’t need to come home and stare at a different screen to monitor your outsourced dog walk,” says Hendrickson.

Myers makes no remarks on his 1:04 video. It’s a demo only, showing a dog being leashed to a drone that then walks it down a neighborhood street while its presumed owner tracks the duo on a laptop in his living room. One Vimeo commenter suggests the dog may be walking the drone, prompting one to wonder what Rashômon director Akira Kurosawa would have to say.

Hedrickson does make an alternate suggestion for Myers’ idea: “Let the drone pick up the s*** or something.”

Chinese Village has Close Encounter of the Second Kind

The landed (possibly Russian) Chinese UFO

China News Service reported three UFOs dropping from the sky on the morning of Friday, May 16. Residents of villages in China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province said they “heard…a huge piercing sound, and then some villagers saw a big fireball”. One fireball crashed into a vegetable garden. The landed object is described as silver-gray, circular, about two-and-a-half feet wide, weighing around ninety pounds, and “surrounded by jagged edges and burn marks.” Two similar objects were spotted falling into neighboring Baiquan county.

To-date, walking metallic tripods have not emerged from the known object, and no sightings of tentacled aliens have been reported.

In a perhaps-related post, Ecns.cn, the English-language website of China News Service, reported on a Russian Proton-M rocket that experienced engine failure shortly after its Friday morning launch. The Russian national space agency Roscosmos claims it burned up in the atmosphere along with the communications satellite it was carrying.

Dracula Expert Radu Florescu Dies

“In Search of Dracula” co-author, Radu Florescu

Romanian-born historian, professor, and philanthropist Radu Florescu died last Sunday, May 18.  Florescu is perhaps best-known for co-authoring the 1972 book, In Search of Dracula. It was the first widespread assertion that Dracula author Bram Stoker based his titular vampire character on Prince Vlad Tepes.

Aka Vlad the Impaler, Tepes was a 15th-century Wallachian folk hero known for exceptional cruelty in defending his country from Ottoman Turks. His nickname comes from his practice of impaling his enemies. His father’s surname, Dracul, roughly translates to “devil” or “demon”. Florescu drew on these many colorful and infamous elements in creating his popular vampire lord.

In Search of Dracula was translated into fifteen languages, and Florescu co-authored five more books on Dracula, Tepes, and Romanian history. Former U.S. ambassador to Romania, Jim Rosapepe, said of him, “No American has educated more Americans about Romania and Dracula than Professor Florescu.” Florescu was 88 years old.

Netflix Rewrites the Movies

The plot for the next “Terminator” movie?

Netflix inadvertently created some imaginative movie plots when an undetected software bug caused the popular streaming service’s plot summaries to merge, resulting in amusing, sometimes disconcerting synopses of movies, TV shows, and documentaries.

Ex: “This special will take you from Taylor’s earliest days as an aspiring singer-songwriter to her triumphant arrival as a global ‘doomsday device'”.

Twitter user Bob Lannon noticed the occasional mashups over the last several months and tweeted them out from time-to-time on his personal account. When he received thousands of retweets, he set up @SummaryBug last Saturday, posting photos of the colorful summaries. To-date, Summary Bug has over 7000 followers.

Unfortunately, the fun is over. Netflix noticed the problem on Wednesday (perhaps alerted by the sudden popularity of Summary Bug), quickly fixed the problem, and tweeted, “The @SummaryBug is officially squashed. Luckily we had a can of Raid handy.” Lannon replied by tweeting he has “a few more days of gems queued up.”

No word yet on whether Netflix has signed the bug up with an agent.

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