News Round Up 375

According to the Guardian, there is a mystery benefactor in the County Durham community of Blackhall.

Since 2014 residents of the tiny colliery town have found at least 13 meticulously prepared bundles of cash, totalling £26,000. They had been left in random places: the latest – a wad of 100 £20 notes – was the fourth handed in to police this year.

Yes, the residents (well, 13 of them) have been handing in these wads of cash to the police. However, the police are stumped: detectives have  interrogated the local bank and post office staff and even tested the cash for fingerprints, but the circumstances surrounding the money remains a riddle.

I suspect there will be a sudden increase in tourism now this story has broken.

Two of British TV’s most famous puppets – Orville the Duck and Emu – are going on sale at auction, they are expected to fetch up to £10,000 each.

Orville – a green duck – became so famous he appeared on Top of the Tops, and the single, “I wish I could fly”, got to number four in the charts.

Emu’s main claim to fame was that he often attacked TV presenters, including this particularly vicious attack on TV presenter Michael Parkinson.

I wonder what will happen when they sell the Teletubbies.

According to the Times, virtual haute couture is now a real thing. Some of you may have bought an item of virtual clothing for your avatar in Second Life, but you can now buy a digital outfit for thousands of pounds, and so called “influencers” are buying these kinds of outfits in order to stay at the top of their influencing tree.

Fashion houses have been inspired by the gaming industry, “skins” and “cosmetics”. According to market researchers Newzoo, in 2018 seventy-nine percent of paying gamers in the U.S. spent money on in-game items, these include virtual outifts, that sell for around $5, and young people are even starting to use the term “default” as a put-down, referring to the generic clothes the video game assigns characters.

It seems to have gone way beyond the fiver market: in 2019 a digital dress sold for $9,500 at a blockchain event called the Ethereal Summit in New York. The dress, called “iridescence,” was created by digital agency The Fabricant, designer Johanna Jaskowska and blockchain company Dapper Labs. Jaskowska “modelled” the item on Instagram before it was sold. And fashion house Carling, have a whole line of digital outfits.

I can’t help but think about the story The Emporer’s New Clothes.

It seems people are spending real money, on virtual things: According to gaming review site Kotaku, a man in China spent $1.4 million on his character in MMORPG Justice Online. 

He lent the character to a friend (for them to play I guess) but his friend (probably ex friend by now) allegedly tried to sell it back to him for 388,000 yuan ($55,138).  It gets worse. Through some kind of glitch, or mistake it ended up listed for 3,888 yuan ($552) on NetEase’s in-game marketplace and was soon purchased by a different player.

The original owner took NetEase and his ex-friend to court, and NetEase subsequently cancelled the sale so that the original owner got his $1.4 million toy back.  However, he had to pay 90,000 yuan ($12,789) in damages to the player who must have thought he had got himself a real bargain.

It all sounds really dodgy to me, and smacks of virtual money laundering. 

And finally, Business Insider reports that Uber has lost its license to operate in London, which is one of its biggest markets globally, with more than 3.5 million drivers.

London’s transport regulator said Uber was not “fit and proper” to hold the license after reports of fraudulent drivers, who had allegedly conducted around 14,000 trips, which were uninsured, with unlicensed drivers; in one instance, a fraudulent driver had even had their license revoked.

References:-

  • The Guardian
  • The Times
  • Kota
  • Business Insider
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I am a director of the Learn English Network. A non-profit organisation registered in the UK dedicated to helping people learning English and people who teach English online.

Learn English 2020