Downtime

Perhaps You’d Like to Read Some Weird International News That Has Nothing Do With the U.S. Election

But for some reason a lot to do with whales?

A blue whale bursts out of the ocean.
Take your mind off the election and start planning for our whale overlords. Todd Cravens on Unsplash

As polls begin to close and election night jitters ramp up across the country, our national need for distraction has never felt more urgent. Luckily, while most news websites are plastered with wall-to-wall election coverage, a few very random and insane news stories have managed to sneak through. Below, we’ve compiled a short list of today’s wildest headlines that have absolutely nothing to do with the election but weirdly have a lot do with whales.

1. The Whale Sculpture That Stopped a Train

On Monday, an elevated Dutch train shot past the end of its tracks and, instead of crashing 30 feet to the ground, was caught by a truly massive sculpture of a whale’s tail. Aptly called “Saved by the Whale’s Tail,” the sculpture was installed at the De Akkers station in Spijkenisse in 2002 and has apparently been lying in wait for its moment in the sun ever since. Some damage to the train, and presumably the sculpture, was sustained, but no injuries were reported. The train spent Monday night on the whale’s tail, which sounds like the opening line of a children’s storybook, and was scheduled to be lifted down by slings today. “I am amazed that it is so strong,” the artist Maarten Struijs told the Guardian. “When plastic has stood for 20 years, you don’t expect it to hold up a metro train.” If only a whale tail had been there to save the man who lived through every New Yorker’s nightmare last week and plunged into a rat-infested sinkhole.

2. Sausage Magnate Murdered by Crossbow in a Sauna

That grisly headline about sums it up. Vladimir Marugov, owner of some of Russia’s largest meatpacking plants, was attacked in a sauna cabin at his countryside estate early on Monday morning. According to the BBC, Marugov, who is also known as the “Sausage King,” was tied up along with his partner by two “masked assailants” who then demanded cash. The woman escaped through the window of the sauna, but detectives found Marugov’s body in the sauna with a crossbow next to it.

It somehow manages to get stranger. When investigators searched a suspect’s apartment, they found a man handcuffed to a bedpost. According to the Guardian, the man was apparently being “held captive and extorted to sign over his apartment, indicating a wider criminal ring behind the grisly murder of the oligarch Vladimir Marugov.”

3. What Are the Whales Planning?

More important whale news: Two women were nearly swallowed by a humpback whale off the coast of Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo, California. Contrary to what Disney and Herman Melville would have us believe, whales normally do not attempt to eat people, so I can only assume that this whale was auditioning for a role in a whale-themed spinoff of Sharknado.

One of the women who was almost consumed told a local station, “I saw the whale come up, [and] I thought, Oh no! It’s too close,” which seems to me a bit of an understatement. Then again, I’ve never been assaulted by a whale. The encounter was captured on camera by one of the women in the boat and at least one bystander.

4. No, Really, What Are the Whales Planning?

In Sri Lanka, 100 to 120 short-finned pilot whales were stranded on Panadura Beach, in what is believed to be the country’s largest-ever whale beaching. According to NPR, a team made up of Sri Lanka navy and coast guard and local residents worked overnight to save the whales, although apparently there was no time to question the mammals on what exactly their plans are for world domination. Seeing as three of the wildest stories of the past week involved some variety of whales, I can only assume that they have simply had enough of humanity and decided to revolt. I wish them luck.

5. Florida Man Harpoons Alligator

Ah, Florida Man, the hero we deserve. While this technically happened a few days ago, we all know time has been meaningless since March. In a Captain Hook revenge story for the ages, a man from Blountstown, Florida, finally dispatched the 1,100-pound alligator that he says has been stalking him for two months. “Three different times in the last two months, I’ve been back there fishing and he’s stalked me. … So me and him, something was going to give between the two of us,” Corey Capps told CNN. Something did indeed give. After conscripting a friend who was legally allowed to kill alligators, Capps faced his nemesis and won. “We went out and harpooned him … and we didn’t realize—we knew he was big, but not as big as when we pulled him up that bank. Across the top of his head was 16 inches wide,” he said.

6. Uncanny Valley Meets Capitalism

According to an analysis cited by Bloomberg, the virtual influencer Lil Miquela will rake in over $11 million for her creators. Lil Miquela, an avatar that her creators prefer to call a “digital character,” has done partnerships with the likes of Calvin Klein and Prada. She also rather strangely had a human boyfriend that she broke up with in March. I would like to be let off this ride immediately.