Odds and Ends – Friday February 23, 2018 – March 1, 2018

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Professor replaced after insisting
Australia isn’t a country

Manchester, N.H. (AP) – An online adjunct professor incorrectly told a student that Australia isn’t a country and gave her a failing grade, prompting Southern New Hampshire University to replace the instructor. Buzzfeed News reports that the 27-year-old student in Idaho was assigned to compare American social norms to that of another country. She chose to study social media use in Australia, but the professor gave her a zero on that portion of the assignment, saying Australia is a continent, not a country. Australia is actually both – a country and a continent. University officials tell WMUR-TV the instructor has been replaced following an investigation. In a statement, the university said it deeply regrets the interaction between the professor and student, and wished athletes from Australia good luck in the Olympic Games.

Valentine condom campaign
urges lovers to think of animals

Pittsburgh (AP) – An environmental group wanted couples to think of wild animals before acting like them on Valentine’s Day. The Center for Biological Diversity handed out endangered species condoms at the Carnegie Science Center’s adults-only Valentine’s event in Pittsburgh. The wrappers featured colorful artwork and slogans like “Before it gets any hotter…remember the sea otter,” and “Can’t refrain? Think of the whooping crane.” The group hopes to show how human population growth negatively affects wildlife. The center, based in Tucson, Arizona, also handed out condoms at an after-hours event at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Lamont Craven, adult programs coordinator at the Carnegie Science Center, says “the condoms are a perfect fit for our event. The packaging highlights a dire topic, while the contents are actionable ways to solve the problem.”

(Center for Biological Diversity via AP)
(Center for Biological Diversity via AP)

Dozens of nude models brave cold,
rain for Polar Bear Paint

New York (AP) – Cold feet can’t stop naked models from parading around New York City. Dozens of body-painted models walked through the chilly streets and posed for photos in a drizzle on Saturday as part of the Polar Bear Paint, a nude spin on the traditional polar bear plunges that see people in swimsuits dive into frigid waters to celebrate the New Year. The Polar Bear Paint was organized by artist Andy Golub (GAH’-lub), who uses body painting as a way to promote human connection through art. The models were painted in a Times Square studio and then gathered outside, where the temperature was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) and a fairly heavy rain subsided and then stopped. Golub says the Polar Bear Paint models “almost brought the sunshine” with them.

Couple inundated with mystery
packages wants it to stop

Acton, Mass. (AP) – A Massachusetts couple says it was fun when they started receiving free mystery packages from Amazon they hadn’t ordered. Now they want it to stop. Mike and Kelly Gallivan, of Acton, tell The Boston Globe the first package arrived in October. They have continued to receive one or two a week with mostly cheap stuff like plastic fans and phone chargers. The Gallivans say Amazon told them the merchandise was paid with a gift card with no sender’s name. Two experts say the Gallivans are likely being used to manipulate Amazon buyer reviews. The anonymous sender is likely writing glowing reviews of their own product. An Amazon spokeswoman said the Seattle-based company is investigating inquiries from consumers who have received unsolicited packages and will ban vendors who abuse the reviews system.

Drivers, and Oxford comma,
come up big in lawsuit settlement

Portland, Maine (AP) – A Maine dairy company has settled a lawsuit over an overtime dispute that was the subject of a ruling hinging on the use of the Oxford comma. Drivers with Oakhurst Dairy filed the lawsuit in 2014 seeking more than $10 million. Court documents filed Thursday show that they settled for $5 million. A federal appeals court decided to keep the drivers’ lawsuit alive last year. The suit concerned an exemption from Maine’s overtime law that says it doesn’t apply to “canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of” foods. The disagreement stemmed from the fact there’s no Oxford, or serial, comma in the “packing for shipment or distribution” part. The drivers said the words referred to the activity of packing and shipping, but they don’t do any packing.