The Odd Side – September 8, 2015

Spanish Pensioner Offers Cash to Find Job for ‘Desperate’ Son

MADRID (Reuters) – A Spanish pensioner has placed a newspaper advertisement offering 5,000 euros ($5,600) to any employer who would hire his 39-year-old son, a “desperate” unemployed father of one.

“Pensioner offers 5,000 euros to company who hires his unemployed son, qualified, responsible and hard-working with good references, pay negotiable according to contract, absolute discretion,” the advertisement in El Heraldo de Aragon newspaper said.

Concerns about Spanish unemployment, the second-highest in Europe at 22.4 percent, are at the center of the campaign for a general election to be held in December.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, ahead in polls but expected to fall short of a majority, is seeking to overcome skepticism that an economic recovery is truly filtering down.

The pensioner, a retired lawyer, told the newspaper he could not watch his son suffer without doing anything.

“The advert might look undignified, but I lost my sense of shame a long time ago,” said the pensioner, who did not want to give his name. His son has been unemployed for several months.

Many families are like his — they have ridden out a six-year economic crisis thanks to the pensions of older members.

Spanish pensions rose 8.3 percent between 2008 and 2012, government statistics show. By contrast, incomes of people aged 30 to 44 — the biggest group in the working-age population — fell 2.8 percent as millions lost their jobs or took wage cuts.

“In the newspaper classified section, Mariano Rajoy’s recovery,” Pablo Echenique, a leading member of the anti-austerity party Podemos, said in an online message accompanying a photo of the ad.

The pensioner, who could not immediately be reached for comment, told the newspaper that he had got around 20 calls, and most had not mentioned the money he offered.

 London’s Car-Melting Skyscraper Wins Carbuncle Cup

LONDON (Reuters) – A London skyscraper that made headlines for reflecting sunlight at an intensity that melted parts of a Jaguar car in the street below has been awarded the annual Carbuncle Cup that highlights perceived architectural horrors.

Officially called 20 Fenchurch Street, the 37-storey office tower in London’s financial district was nicknamed the “Walkie Talkie” before the car-melting incident, and the “Walkie Scorchie” afterward.

Organized by Business Design magazine, the Carbuncle Cup is awarded by a panel of architecture critics who take into account comments sent in by readers.

This year’s prize went to the Walkie Scorchie by a unanimous decision of the judges.

Judges complained that the top-heavy building was an eyesore.

Then there was the problem with the south-facing concave facade, which concentrated the sun’s rays so that it warped the wing mirror, panels and badge on a Jaguar parked down below.

Local business owners reported carpet burns and paint damage to their shops; [media] crews filmed an egg being fried in the reflected sun beams. The facade was later fitted with horizontal fins to diffuse the sun’s rays.

Building Design also reported that there had been complaints about high winds at the building’s base, and that the Sky Garden on top of the building had been criticized as too bland and failing to match the original design.

Emails seeking comment from Vinoly’s practice and from Canary Wharf Group were not immediately answered. A spokeswoman for Land Securities declined to comment.

Launched in 2006 as a humorous counterpart to the prestigious Stirling Prize for good architecture, the Carbuncle Cup has been awarded to a variety of projects across Britain.

New Hampshire Town Celebrates Notable ‘65 UFO Sighting

EXETER, N.H. (AP) – They say a lightning strike started a fire in the Exeter, New Hampshire, town hall that caused the cancellation of a UFO festival the first year it was hosted by the local Kiwanis Club.

That’s what they say, anyway. (Cue the eerie music ….)

Fifty years ago, a frightened 18-year-old high school graduate and future Navy seaman named Norman Muscarello told police he had seen an unidentified flying object. The event that became known as “The Incident at Exeter” sparked an Air Force investigation.

The Exeter UFO Festival that runs through this weekend brings together a gathering of UFO-logists, true believers, skeptics and the merely curious to raise money for kids’ charities and talk about just what did happen that night.

Bill Smith, president of the Kiwanis Club of the Exeter Area, said the festival was the brainchild of Dean Merchant, a Kiwanian and UFO enthusiast.

“He just was fascinated as to just what happened 50 years ago,” Smith said. “He was saying, ‘Nobody recognizes the significance of the event anymore.’”

Here’s the story: Muscarello, who died in 2003, was hitchhiking home on Sept. 3, 1965, when he saw strange lights in the woods in nearby Kensington. The lights moved toward him. He panicked, dove into a ditch and, when the lights moved back into the woods, bolted for a nearby farmhouse for help. The house was empty so he flagged down a motorist who took him to the Exeter Police Department. An officer went back to the farmhouse with Muscarello and later said he had also seen a flying object that he couldn’t explain. Sightings came in from others in the area, too.

The U.S. Air Force said the sightings were either a mirage caused by a temperature inversion or one of five B-47 planes in the area at the time. A definitive answer was never given.

The Exeter festival is still, at heart, a fundraiser for children’s charities supported by Kiwanis.

This anniversary year will attract 600 to 700 people who’ll buy little green aliens, spaceships, T-shirts, coffee mugs and hot dogs. They’ll also hear from UFO researchers.

The event is family-friendly and geared for fun. But Smith cautions that there’s a line between having fun and poking fun.

“Quite frankly, we’ll get people who aren’t happy about this and they’ll say, ‘Do you really believe in this stuff?’”

“There’s still some of that. Not as much as in the past when they’d say, ‘Man, you guys are a bunch of nuts!”