If 2020 was a horrible disaster then 2021 could be seen as a little weird. Certainly horrors like the Delta variant and the attack on the U.S. Capitol were tragic, but many of the other major stories of 2021 were just plain weird.
Here they are:
1. The military acknowledged the existence of UFOs
It has been almost 80 years since the first "UFO crash" in Roswell, New Mexico. But after decades of questions and a long-term embedding in pop culture, the government was never willing to reveal much about their own investigations. But after a project pushed by former Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Americans learned about the UFOs that the military has seen and researched.
The result has been that the government will continue to fund research into the issue.
Navy pilots describe encounters with UFOs www.youtube.com
2. Joel Osteen’s plumber discovers lost $600,000 hidden behind bathroom wall — but never gets the reward
Like a story out of the Pink Panther, a plumber was reattaching a toilet in the wall of the public restroom at the Lakewood Church of Joel Osteen in Houston, Texas. That's when he saw some cash. It turns out there was $600,000 in cash and checks was hidden in the wall behind it.
It was leftover from a 2014 theft report after all of the donations from a Sunday service were stolen. There hasn't been much news about how the money got there, whether Lakewood got anything from their insurance company over the theft or what was behind stall number three. What was confirmed, however, is that Crime Stoppers did ultimately give him the $20,000 reward after they offered $25,000. Lakewood paid him for reattaching the toilet.
3. Bernie Sanders became a fashion icon for his mittens
When one thinks of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), many things come to mind: Class warrior, fierce foe to corporations, fairness fighter and even amusingly authentic. Fashion icon, however, is not one of those things.
Still, when he appeared at the Jan. 20, 2021 inauguration of President Joe Biden, the former presidential candidate rocked a pair of knitted mittens he won the internet. The memes continue to percolate even today.
#ISaidIWasntGoingTo repost my favorite Bernie-in-Mittens memepic.twitter.com/MR08jNTjaz— shallow pier diver (@shallow pier diver) 1640641201
4. When a scuba diver found Spongebob and Patrick in real life
Dr. Christopher Mah, a scientist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was out scuba diving one day when he came across two species that looked familiar to anyone who's watched cartoons over the past 20 years.
*laugh* I normally avoid these refs..but WOW. REAL LIFE Sponge bob and Patrick! #Okeanos Retreiver seamount 1885 mpic.twitter.com/fffKNKMFjP— Christopher Mah (@Christopher Mah) 1627405968
5. A Texas Mayor somehow lost a big pet turtle - and when the two were reunited it was weird
Former San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero was a "blubbering mess" when he was told that his turtle Diego had been found. The 25-pound South American tortoise wandered out of the backyard and was likely picked up by someone.
6. Zebras on the run in Maryland
It began in August when three zebras from a Maryland man with an exotic animal breeding business. One of those zebras died, but the other two remained on the run in the Washington, D.C. metro area for months. Despite the high population density in the DMV, the zebras went undetected, dodging animal control and USDA and Prince George's County Department of the Environment. They were finally captured in December.
Video of one of the zebras that are still on the loose in Maryland, they\u2019ve been on the run for the last several days https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/local/three-zebras-loose-prince-georges-county/65-e957380a-ce64-45bc-917e-8d4d5c9c440d\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/L6ZuoKxLOr— philip lewis (@philip lewis) 1632351359
7. Trump called Georgia officials demanding that they commit voter fraud for him — and it was recorded
Just after the start of 2021, President Donald Trump continued his efforts to overthrow the 2020 election. There was a lot leading up to the call. Trump allies had been putting pressure on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for weeks. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows actually flew down to Georgia to "observe" the election audit that still declared President Joe Biden the winner.
On Jan. 2, Trump got on the phone for an hour with Raffensperger, and others, to demand, "What I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than [the 11,779 vote margin of defeat] we have, because we won the state." The call was recorded and broadcast everywhere.
Full Phone Call: Trump Pressures Georgia Secretary of State To Recount Election Votes | NBC News www.youtube.com
8. Trump proved he has an alarming amount of knowledge about QAnon conspiracy theories
Former President Donald Trump proved that he has a striking knowledge of conspiracy theories that don't even make it all the way into the Republican Party talking points.
"I was startled by his knowledge and grasp of really specific conspiracy theories that even didn't make it out of the Qanon internet," said reporter Ben Collins said. "They didn't make it to the civilian internet where most people live. They barely made it to Facebook rumor-level stuff. For example, the president targets this woman named Ruby Freeman, who is an election worker. She's a black woman, and 4chan, an extreme website, said this woman was rigging the election using suitcases -- this is an elaborate conspiracy theory -- and the president specifically targeted this one hashtag called 'where's Ruby.' This was a Qanon hashtag, only a few hundred people retweeted this thing and it was all Qanon accounts."
Freeman ultimately had to go into hiding after Trump supporters showed up at her home, calling with threats and harassment, leaving her and her family in terror.