Funny Old World: The Week’s Offbeat News

Channels Television  
Updated March 20, 2021
Taiwan’s government says the sudden name changes are fishy. (Photo: AFP)



Our weekly roundup of offbeat stories from around the world:

Only codding

Taiwan has been forced to ask people to stop changing their name to “salmon” after scores of young people did just that to take up a giveaway at a chain of sushi restaurants.

Any customer whose ID card contained “Gui Yu” — the Chinese characters for salmon — could get all the sushi they and five friends could eat.

But what has been dubbed “Salmon Chaos” drove officials to distraction, with a minister forced to appeal to people to be “more rational”.

“I just changed my name this morning,” said a student called Ma who changed his name to “Explosive Good Looking Salmon”.

He had already eaten $235 worth of free sushi, he boasted.

A woman called Tung said she and two friends also changed their names.

“We’ll just change our names back afterwards,” she said.

Other fishy names reported in local media include “Salmon Prince”, “Meteor Salmon King” and “Salmon Fried Rice”

And one far-sighted man has added 36 new characters to his name, most of them seafood-related, including crab, abalone, and lobster, in anticipation of the next free offer.

Sadly no one has yet had the foresight to call themselves Teri Yaki.

Choo moo!

To India, a video of a passenger train rolling backward for 35 kilometres (20 miles) went viral after the driver slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a cow.

Cows are sacred to Hindus but passengers were not amused when the New Delhi to Tanakpur service began to roll backwards out of control back to the capital after the sudden stop.

North Eastern Railway did not explain how the train was halted but said it “stopped just short of Khatima yard safely”.

There was no word on how the cow is doing.

Austria’s mask beef

In another crushing victory for bovines, judges decreed that Austrians can now wear cow masks and not be arrested for breaching the country’s ban on face coverings.

Its constitutional court said police were wrong to fine an animal rights activist for wearing a cow mask at a protest against intensive dairy farming.

The controversial 2017 ban aimed at the Islamic face veil has been further called into question since the coronavirus pandemic made mask-wearing mandatory in shops, public transport, and crowded public places.


In this photo taken on December 2, 2020 a face mask hangs with a table tennis bat cover at a park in Beijing. GREG BAKER / AFP
In this photo taken on December 2, 2020 a face mask hangs with a table tennis bat cover at a park in Beijing. GREG BAKER / AFP


Aussies employ jellyfish terror

Australia added another chapter to its long love story with insects and animals that can kill you when its Olympic surfing team named themselves  “The Irukandjis” after a deadly and difficult to pronounce jellyfish.

With other national sports teams already called the Wallabies, Crocs, Sharks, Emus, Koalas, Kookaburras, Dingos, Wombats, Firetails, Joeys, Kangaroos and Jillaroos, there wasn’t much wildlife left for the surfers, who will be making their debut at the Tokyo Games.

The irukandji — pronounced ira-khan-ji — is a tiny and highly venomous box jellyfish with an incredibly painful sting.

So painful in fact that researchers believe it one of the world’s most poisonous creatures — all the more to swell Aussie hearts with pride.

“The Irukandji is ferocious in the water and that is how our Australian surfers approach competition,” said seven-time world surfing champion, the wonderfully-named Layne Beachley.

The team got permission from the Yirrganydji people of northern-eastern Australia to use the name, and their kit is being designed by an indigenous artist.

The surfers will be joined in Japan by Australia’s  football team, the Socceroos, and their under-23 Olympic outfit, the Olyroos.

Given the difficulty of chanting “Come on you Irukandjis!” — and the Australian genius for shortening names — some suspect the surfers may end up being called “the Jellies” or even “the Jeez”.