x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

If a gorilla talks, does anyone care?

Plus, a Houston mother crashes her car and leaves her three children inside to get ice cream, Romania to display "vampire" skeletons and more of the strangest stories of the week in News You Can Lose.

A new study has revealed that eavesdropping on gossiping women can be so intent that the listener fails to hear anything else.

In a study from Royal Holloway, University of London, two men and two women, each having conversations, were recorded at the same time in a room. During their conversations, a man walked through repeatedly chanting the phrase "I am a gorilla". Later, the recording was played to volunteers, who were asked to pick out any peculiarities. Only 30 per cent of people focusing on the women caught the gorilla man; almost all of the people listening to the men heard the interloper.

"This has real-world implications in suggesting, for example, that talking on your mobile is likely to reduce your awareness of traffic noises," said lead researcher, psychologist Dr Polly Dalton.

 

It was hot out, after all

A mother in Texas has been charged with child endangerment after crashing her car and leaving her three children inside at the scene - to go get ice cream.

Stephanie Dillard had been driving in Houston when she crashed into a bus. After the accident, she left her children, aged five, 12 and 16 and whom suffered minor injuries, and walked to a nearby shop to buy an ice cream cone. While she ate the snack, she began stripping off her clothes before resisting arrest by police. Reports say the temperature in Houston that day was 34°C.

 

Shoe-in for criticism

Adidas has cancelled plans for a new line of trainers that feature shackle-like ankle cuffs after receiving criticism about racism and the shoes being reminiscent of slavery.

The JS Roundhouse Mid are - or were - high-top trainers with yellow ankle bands held on with plastic chains to the shoe. Adidas initially previewed the shoes on Facebook last week with the tagline "Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?" But feedback has been so negative since that the company has decided to withdraw the shoes from the market.

 

Taxman going Rambo

With Indonesia's tax collectors renowned for corruption and inefficiency, the head of the tax office has come up with a novel way to increase production and honesty: military training for its 32,000 employees.

"We'll cooperate with the presidential security force to organise a basic state defence training for three weeks in a military centre," said Fuad Rahmany, the head of the tax ministry. "It is meant to develop love for the nation and for the state."

The ministry is also co-operating with police and the Corruption Eradication Commission to clean up its infamous department.

 

Make sure they're dead

A museum in Bulgaria says it will put two skeletons on display of men that were killed for being vampires.

The 700-year-old remains of the men, unearthed near Sozopol, showed evidence that they had been killed in a pagan ritual and had been impaled with iron rods.

"Throughout the country we have found over 100 such 'vampire' burials of mainly noblemen from the Middle Ages who were branded bloodsucking immortals," said a National History Museum spokesman.