25 Weird Competitions From Around the World


By Nicole Caldwell for Stacker

Humans’ primal desire to compete can be traced to basic principles of evolution: To survive, all organisms on the planet must constantly outdo each other for resources. But where fellow terrestrials use play to simulate competitive skills like hunting or fighting, human beings have taken their zest for competition many steps further. The world is riddled with odd competitions, from the Air Guitar World Championships held in Finland since 1996 and cow pie bingo to any number of eating competitions, polar dips, and, of course, the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, held each year at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, Calif.

Events like lumberjack or woodsmen competitions have been mainstays in American culture, while other events come briefly into the public eye only to fade quickly (and, sometimes, thankfully) back into obscurity. Decades ago, women were subjected to

(in which contestants wore papier-mache masks to hide their faces), “perfect back” contests, cleaning championships, and other archaic competitions that trudged forward through humans’ primordial soup into splendid, utter irrelevancy.

Charlie Chaplin once entered a

(he came in 20th place), and we’ve since seen the same from Adele. Then there are the now-defunct ,

, and even the Extreme Ironing World Championships (which is just what it sounds like). Still (surprisingly) in operation, however, are contests for lawnmower racing, baby crying, rock-paper-scissors, black pudding throwing, Punkin Chunkin, tree climbing, shovel racing, and even the Cold Water Swimming Olympics.

Mining various news reports, organization and town websites, and championships data yielded 25 of the most unusual competitions from around the world. It seems there’s a contest for every imaginable skill, from belly-flopping to swimming in grits.

Keep reading to find out where you can compete to be the best Santa Claus or find your way to self-transcendence in a 3,100-mile race.

Read full story here.

States with the most UFO sightings

States with the most UFO sightings

In the Bible's Book of Ezekiel, a mysterious ship appears from the sky in Chaldea, modern-day Kuwait. The next wave of mysterious apparitions showed up in fourth-century China when a “moon boat” was documented floating over the country once every 12 years. More strange sightings were noted around Rome in 218 B.C., Germany in 1561, Hull, England, in 1801, and multiple times during World War II when allied pilots used the term “foo fighters” to describe the odd circles of light pilots noticed flanking their planes during combat.

The term “UFO,” short for “unidentified flying object,” was coined in 1953 by the United States Air Force as a bucket term for such reports as the foo fighters in WWII. Stateside sightings were hardly restricted to military flyover zones, however. Here, the first recorded UFO sighting is from 1639 when John Winthrop wrote in his diary about a large, strange light in the sky that shot back and forth long before the time of satellites or planes. By the time he and the other men on his boat got their wits about them, their boat was a mile from where it had been when they first spotted the light.

The first documented image of a UFO was captured in 1870 on the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. More sightings were reported at Mount Rainier in Washington in 1947, and of course several in Roswell, N.M. Since then, countless numbers of unusual shapes in the sky—and their supposed inhabitants—have been exhaustively reported without sufficient explanations beyond the possible existence of extraterrestrial life.

A surge in eyewitness accounts begot even more sightings, and ways to guard against invasions and abductions—more than 40,000 Americans bought into alien protection insurance, which offers customers monetary relief should a loved one get carted away by little green men. As recently as last year, Texas reported a wave of UFO sightings even as overall sightings have declined. In spite of hundreds of thousands of sightings, reports, and claimed abductions (researchers of one Roper Poll in 1991 estimate 4 million Americans think they've been abducted by aliens) worldwide, the official position of the government thus far has been that such alien activity stems from hoaxes or simple cases of mistaking other objects like weather balloons for alien life. Of course, UFOs are simply that: unidentified objects, which are not necessarily the same things as evidence of extraterrestrial life.

Since its founding in 1974, the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) has documented around 90,000 UFO sightings, with almost 95% of those sightings supposedly easily explained away as military tests, weather balloons, or other terrestrial activity. Still, in December of 2017, the New York Times brought to light the Pentagon program Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP), a $22 million investigation funded and carried out by the U.S. government into UFO reports from 2007 to 2012. This investigation came decades after more well-known programs such as the 1952 Project Blue Book, which inspired the 2019 History Channel series by the same name.

Using data from NUFORC's 24/7 hotline, which has been around since 1974, Stacker compiled a ranking of the states with the most reported UFO sightings. The website details not only the total number of sightings in each state, but also the odds of spotting a UFO for a resident in each. Of note is that almost three-quarters of all UFO sighting reports in the United States occur between 4 p.m. and midnight, and tend to peak between 9 and 10 p.m. Food for thought next time you're out scoping for alien life.

Eco-friendly replacements for 50 plastic items in your life

By Nicole Caldwell for Stacker

About 300 million tons of plastic are produced from oil each year. Almost half of that is used for single-use packaging, such as plastic wrap on food, containers for personal care items, bottles for cleaning products, and other everyday purchases—including the plastic bags we carry them home in. Worse, only about 9% of all the plastic ever created has been recycled. And things are getting worse, not better: Almost half of all the plastic ever made has been created since 2000, the production of plastic is way up, and recycling alone can't stop the flow of plastic pollution into the world's oceans.

As more statistics come out about the volume of plastic ocean pollution (18 billion pounds annually from coastal regions alone) and the effect that is having on marine life (267 species worldwide have already been adversely affected), people have begun eschewing plastic products for zero-waste, eco-friendly options. Most global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products, which has inspired thousands of companies to seek alternatives to plastic items from zero-waste personal care products and kitchen items to office equipment and ethically sourced, sustainable clothing.

Stacker has pored over the research and scoured product reviews and company backgrounds to compile this gallery of 50 easy, eco-friendly replacements for common plastic items in your life. Prices have been provided, and represent the cost for long-term use, except in the case of items that run out, like toothpaste. Those numbers should be compared to an individual's or family's spending on similar, single-use products over time for items such as sandwich bags or disposable razors. Wherever possible, products listed in this gallery represent less expensive options over time to their plastic, disposable counterparts.

In the interest of being most serviceable, Stacker has left two of the most ubiquitous, eco-friendly items—stainless steel drink canteens and reusable shopping bags—off the list in order to make room for items that may be less well-known. Wherever possible, products referenced come in zero-waste, plastic-free packaging, as well.

Continue reading to discover 50 easy alternatives to everyday, plastic items.

Airbnb Brings Income, Commerce to the North Country

Airbnb Brings Income, Commerce to the North Country

Airbnb has changed the face of tourism since it was launched in 2008. The company has enjoyed a 45 percent increase in US bookings alone year-to-year, and today boasts around 4 million listings in more than 191 countries and 65,000 cities.