TIME Bizarre

HSBC Has Fired Six Staffers Over a Mock ISIS-Style Beheading Video

A branch of HSBC is seen in Chinatown in central London
Toby Melville — Reuters A branch of HSBC is seen in Chinatown in central London June 9, 2015

The video was apparently filmed during a team building exercise

Six HSBC staffers have been fired after posting a mock execution video to social media, reportedly filmed in the style of an ISIS beheading.

The video purportedly showed a group of men in balaclavas, wielding what appeared to be a knife, surrounding a kneeling man in an orange jumpsuit. It was allegedly filmed during a team building exercise in the U.K., AFP reports.

The staff members posted the video on Instagram, according to AFP. It has since been deleted and all of the staffers involved have been fired.

“This is an abhorrent video and HSBC would like to apologize for any offense caused,” a representative of the bank said.

ISIS has released a series of gruesome videos showing the beheading of international hostages wearing orange jumpsuits. The Islamic group has executed over 3,000 people in the last year alone, according to the AFP.



Here’s How All Those “National Days” Get Made

Zoovio co-owner and creator of National Day Calendar Marlo Anderson, eats some homemade fudge as he poses for photos on National Fudge Day at his Mandan, N.D. business on June 16, 2015.
Will Kincaid—AP Zoovio co-owner and creator of National Day Calendar Marlo Anderson, eats some homemade fudge as he poses for photos on National Fudge Day at his Mandan, N.D. business on June 16, 2015.

The "National Day Calendar" is an online compendium of pseudo-holidays that charges $1,500 to $4,000 for "national day" proclamations.

(NEW YORK) — To most Americans, July 4 is Independence Day. But on Marlo Anderson’s calendar, it’s also Caesar Salad Day and Barbecued Spareribs Day.

Anderson is the mastermind of the National Day Calendar, an online compendium of pseudo-holidays that has become a resource for TV and radio stations looking to add a little levity to their broadcasts.

The 52-year-old co-owner of a VHS digitizing company in North Dakota started the calendar in 2013 and soon realized the site could also be a way for people to declare their own special days. So last year, he started charging $1,500 to $4,000 for “national day” proclamations.

“People certainly don’t need to use us. It’s just we really give it a jumpstart,” he said.

Marketing experts give Anderson credit for seizing on the desire by companies and groups for another way to promote themselves, though they question the effectiveness some of the resulting campaigns. It’s not the only reason for celebration, but food seems to be a common subject for special days.

Already, the National Day Calendar has given its blessing to more than 30 made-up holidays. A crouton maker paid for National Crouton Day (May 13), a seafood restaurant submitted National Fried Clam Day (July 3) and a craft beer maker came up with National Refreshment Day (fourth Thursday in July).

Anderson’s venture, which he says brings in roughly $50,000 a year, underscores the free-for-all nature of such days.

In 1870, Congress established the first four federal holidays with New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since then, only six more annual federal holidays have been added, with the most recent being Martin Luther King Jr. day in 1983. But even the authority of those holidays is limited; although they’re broadly observed, they’re technically only legally applicable to federal employees.

A few dozen other dates are also recognized in the U.S. code, including Mother’s Day, National School Lunch Week and American Heart Month. Mayors, presidents and other lawmakers can declare days honoring individuals and causes too, although those usually aren’t widely observed.

Beyond that, there’s no single authority for declaring the legitimacy of special days, which can become part of culture in myriad ways, including marketing campaigns, advocacy efforts and folklore.

The often murky origins present an opportunity for the National Day Calendar, which has emerged to bestow an air of authority on special days. For a price, the site mails official-looking proclamations that Anderson prints out and frames at Zoovio, his VHS digitizing business.

Boston Market’s chief brand officer, Sara Bittorf, said the idea for National Rotisserie Chicken Day (June 2) came from the chain’s ad agency, but noted the day was one of few approved by the National Day Calendar’s selection committee.

Since the National Day Calendar doesn’t have its own staff, that selection committee is made up of four Zoovio employees.

Amy LaVallie, a committee member, said the general rule is to pick days with broad appeal. It’s why “National Sean Connery Day” was rejected, she said, but Boston Market’s submission passed muster.

“National Rotisserie Chicken Day, okay? People like chicken. Simple as that,” LaVallie said.

Still, some question the validity of Anderson’s calendar declarations.

“It seems like hokum to me, but more power to him,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Key Brands, a consulting firm. “Ask him if they have a P.T. Barnum day, and see if they’re celebrating a sucker born every minute.”

While special days give companies another way to promote a product, Passikoff said their effectiveness would depend largely on whether there’s a natural interest in the category. He said National Donut Day (June 5) gets a lot of attention because the pastries are popular and the day has interesting origins; the Salvation Army says it began during World War I when its workers gave soldiers coffee and doughnuts in the trenches.

As for a day celebrating rotisserie chicken, Passikoff questioned whether anyone would really care.

While the National Day Calendar is a quick way for companies to get recognition for a special date, it isn’t the only keeper of notable days.

In 1957, brothers William and Harrison Chase started Chase’s Calendar of Events as a reference for the media. The first edition was 32 pages, but the book has since mushroomed to 752 pages and includes federal holidays and events like musical festivals, as well as days celebrating things like squirrels, pooper scoopers and s’mores.

It costs $80 and is used by places like libraries and media outlets.

Holly McGuire, editor-in-chief of Chase’s, said she and her team try to gauge whether people actually “observe” particular dates when deciding what should be included in the book.

“Really, in the last 10 or 20 years, people have just been throwing them out there. They may take or not. We try to bring a little order to the chaos,” McGuire said.

For instance, McGuire said Chase’s doesn’t list a day for chocolate since there are about three floating about and she can’t figure out how they came to be. Yet the book lists a “Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night,” which is intended to relieve people of squash from “overzealous planting.”

McGuire didn’t provide details on Chase’s methods for investigating the legitimacy of special days, but said a couple retweets on Twitter wouldn’t qualify.

“We’ve got a team and we’re constantly looking at things, kind of like dictionary editors do with new words,” she said.

People can submit special days for inclusion in Chase’s, but acceptance doesn’t hinge on payments.

At the National Day Calendar, by contrast, one-time proclamations for birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions are on sale for $19.99 or $39.99. The price for ongoing inclusion in the calendar is higher.

For $1,500, Anderson provides a framed proclamation. For $2,500, he helps arrange interviews with the media. And for $4,000 and travel expenses, he’ll show up to present proclamations at events. So far, Anderson says three groups have taken him on that offer.

This fall, he’s traveling to New York for National Dumpling Day (Sept. 26); the day was submitted by TMI Corp., a distributor of Asian foods.

TIME Bizarre

People Really Think It Looks Like Michael Jackson Is Moonwalking in These Clouds

Six years after his death

During a lightning storm in central Virginia, some people swore they saw Michael Jackson moonwalking his way through the clouds. Behold, this image captured by recreational photographer John Plashal:

Plashal captured the image on Tuesday, June 23, but told CBS affiliate WTVR that he didn’t even notice the Jackson resemblance at first. He submitted several storm photos to the station’s Facebook page — and once other people noticed the Michael Jackson imagery, the photo started to go viral.

“I see it. I see it now,” Plashal told the New York Daily News. “It’s pretty wild. It’s one of those things — believe what you will.”

TIME Bizarre

A Guy Got Struck by Lightning Twice, and His Name Happens to Be Rod

You really can't make this stuff up

Is it any wonder his nickname is “Lightning Rod”?

Rod Wolfe of Chebanse, Ill., was standing outside his home on June 20 when a tree next to him was hit by a lightning bolt. The charge traveled through his body but didn’t kill him, ABC 7 Chicago reports. He did, however, end up in the hospital with broken ribs and some cardiac problems.

Eighteen years earlier, Wolfe was hit by lightning while working in a cemetery.

“Everybody says I am a lucky person and I say, How can I be a lucky person?” Wolfe told ABC 7 Chicago. “They say, Yeah, but you survived twice.”

[ABC 7 Chicago]

TIME Bizarre

This Is Why People Think UFOs Look Like ‘Flying Saucers’

Salem, Massachusetts, USA. 3rd August, 1952. This picture, taken through the window of a laboratory by a 21 year old U.S. coastguard, shows four unidentified flying objects as bright lights in the sky. Many American's believe them to be flying saucers.
Popperfoto / Getty Images A picture, taken through the window of a laboratory by a U.S. coastguard, shows four unidentified flying objects as bright lights in the sky, in Salem, Mass. on Aug. 3, 1952.

It’s credited as the first modern UFO sighting and the origin of America’s obsession with flying saucers. But it might have all been based on what The Atlantic calls “one of the most significant reporter misquotes in history.”

On this day, June 24, in 1947, an amateur pilot was on his way to an air show in Oregon when he saw a bright blue flash of light in the sky near Mount Rainier. At first he thought it was the sun glinting off another aircraft, but the only other plane around was about 15 mi. away, and not glinting. Then he saw nine more flashes of light, in quick succession — coming from what he later described as unidentified flying objects.

It was when the pilot, Kenneth Arnold, tried to describe the motion of the objects to a reporter for the United Press that the mix-up occurred. He said they flew “like a saucer if you skip it across the water.” The reporter took this to mean that the objects themselves were saucer-like, and news reports across the country repeated that Arnold had seen “flying saucers.”

Suddenly everyone was seeing what Arnold had seen, except that he hadn’t. Per TIME: “By July 4, newspapers were heralding literally hundreds of reports of ‘flying saucers’ in skies across the nation.”

On July 7, a New Mexico rancher reported finding what he thought was the crash site of a flying saucer near Roswell, N.M. When he shared his theory with officials at the Roswell Army Air Field, they concurred, and issued a press release claiming they had “captured” a flying saucer. (The next day, cooler heads prevailed higher up the chain of command. The Air Force retracted the claim and said that what they had actually captured were the remains of a weather balloon.)

But while Arnold didn’t say he’d seen saucers, he believed he’d seen something otherworldly. He’d calculated the speed of the flying objects at more than 1,200 mph — nearly twice the speed of sound, at a time when planes hadn’t yet cracked the sound barrier.

He couldn’t come up with an explanation other than the extraterrestrial, since the flying pattern of the objects was too erratic for planes and too fast for almost anything else.

“Everyone says I’m nuts,” he’s quoted as saying in a 1947 newspaper story, “and I guess I’d say it too if someone else reported those things. But I saw them and watched them closely.”

Although the objects Arnold saw have never been incontrovertibly identified, the Air Force eventually offered a better explanation for the Roswell crash site — and even admitted to a cover-up of sorts, according to TIME. That weather balloon wasn’t really a weather balloon, the Air Force acknowledged in 1994, but neither was it a flying saucer: Most likely it was one of a train of high-altitude balloons carrying acoustical equipment to monitor Soviet nuclear tests in the years following World War II.

Read more about flying saucers, here in the TIME Archives: Did Aliens Really Land?

TIME Bizarre

This Soccer Team’s New Mascot Will Haunt Your Every Waking Moment

Jeff Holmes — Partick Thistle Football Club

Meet "Kingsley"

The Scottish soccer team Partick Thistle has a new mascot, and it’s caused quite a stir on social media.

The new mascot was designed by artist David Shrigley and was unveiled Monday after the Scottish team signed a new six-figure sponsorship deal with the California-based company Kingsford Capital Management.

The mascot is named Kingsley, and it’s pretty unclear what exactly Kingsley is. It’s been described by some as “absolutely terrifying.”

The new deal includes front shirt sponsorship, branding around the stadium, and the selling of your soul to Kingsley the Yellow King of Carcosa.

TIME Bizarre

Naked Man Screaming ‘I’m on Fire’ Streaks Walmart to Shower in Milk

“The first question I would have would be, ‘why?’” Pike County Sheriff Rodney Scott said

Two men have been arrested in Kentucky after a man ran naked — save for shoes, socks and a Halloween mask — through a Walmart and filmed it.

In the video above, which includes footage from the stunt that was filmed and uploaded to YouTube on June 17, the man can be seen running around in the store, screaming “I’m on fire” and pouring milk over his head.

According to WOWK-TV, David Daniels and Timothy Smith were arrested for the stunt on Saturday and were taken to the Pike County Detention Center where they will be held without bond until they appear in court.

“The first question I would have would be, ‘why?’” Pike County Sheriff Rodney Scott says in the clip above. “Why would they want to do it?”

Why, indeed.

TIME Bizarre

Tiny Scottish Island Experiences First Crime in 50 Years With Six Wooly Hats Stolen

The burglary happened at one of the island's 20 buildings

A recently-opened cosmetics store on the tiny Scottish island of Canna was robbed last Friday night, with thieves breaking in and stealing cash, several beauty products and six wooly hats.

The theft is the first instance of crime on the island in over half a century; the last theft in the 1960s was of a wooden plate, Scottish broadcaster STV News reported.

“The thieves cleared the shelves of sweets, chocolate bars, coffee, biscuits, batteries and more,” said a spokeswoman for the Canna Community Trust, which runs the store. “Most upsetting for [manager] Julie was they stole six of her hand-knitted Canna wool hats which were in the shop on a sale or return basis.”

The spokeswoman added that they might have to employ drastic new security measures to prevent further thefts on the island, which has a population of less than 30.

“Sadly, this means we will have to lock the door of the shop overnight now,” she said. “We left it open specifically to welcome fisherman in to use the Wi-Fi and buy anything they needed while resting in at our pier overnight.”


TIME Bizarre

Someone Poured Coca-Cola into a Pan of Molten Lead and Thinks the Result Looks Like This Famous Work of Art

Do you agree?

In an experiment that seems like the type of thing a “mad scientist” would come up with, YouTube user TAOFLEDERMAUS” poured Coca Cola into a pan of molten lead and then claims the final product looks like Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

It is reminiscent of the viral video in which a tech blogger who boiled an iPhone 6 in Coca Cola.

Needless to say, it does not seem like the kind of experiment that you should try at home.


TIME Bizarre

Take a Totally Strange, Completely Real Personality Test from 1965

TIME From the June 18, 1965, issue of TIME

Among the true/false questions: "I never attend a sexy show if I can avoid it"

This week’s issue of TIME explores the unexpected ways that personality tests are reshaping the workplace. The esoteric questions–what does understanding why stars twinkle have to do with getting a job?–are but the latest step in a process that’s been going on for a long time. Almost exactly 50 years ago—on June 18, 1965—TIME printed an earlier example of just such a test.

It isn’t hard to see how frustrating it could be to take. After all, how would an employer make use of an applicant’s answer to true/false statements like these? I have not lived the right kind of life. I brood a great deal. Once in a while I laugh at a dirty joke. I feel uneasy indoors. I dislike to take a bath. I like mannish women. I practically never blush. I would like to hunt lions in Africa. And, of course: I never attend a sexy show if I can avoid it.

Many of the concerns expressed by TIME readers over that 1965 story are similar to those faced by potential employees today: Is this an invasion of privacy? Is it accurate? Is it going to help? One TIME reader suggested a more puckish response, which ran in the letters section the following week:

Sir: If I were applying for a job with one of the Government agencies that test your personality via the MMPI quiz, upon receiving the test I would first scratch the tender top of my head, look around to see if someone was watching, then proceed to brood over my strange sex life, occasionally invoking the Devil while thinking bad, often terrible, words to fortify my strange and peculiar thoughts. Trying to be casual, I would then light a match, which is normal procedure before my daily conversation with God. After completing the quiz, I would leave the room (carefully using my new handkerchief on the doorknob) and hurry home to repair the door latch.

Read more about the contemporary use of personality tests in this week’s issue of TIME

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