Pandemic pet craze, happiest country, sushi name-change, Rubik’s Cube shock

Mar 24, 2021 Episode 39

Craze for pets takes effect! Find out which country is happiest, what people will do for free sushi and stunning Rubik’s Cube moves in India


Episode Transcript



OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”




LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – your weekly world news update!


I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and, as always, I’m joined by my big story explainer, sound effects editor and… Mama!


MAMA: Hello, I’m Lyndee Prickitt.


LEELA: We have a packed and rather wacky week on Newsy Pooloozi…


First up, pandemic pets – more people than ever are getting new cats and dogs – but it’s creating some craaaazy demands… on the market, the owners and on the pets!


We’ll also reveal the most popular pet names given in the UK during the pandemic – and see how they compare elsewhere.


And the World Happiness Report is out – find out what that is and which country is the happiest.


What would you do to get your favorite dish for free? You’ll never believe what some people in Taiwan are doing for salmon sushi.


And, finally, get ready to be in awe at the latest Rubik’s Cube record breaker… (try saying that fast!)


So let’s jump on in to the  whirlpool of news and information. First up is the…


00: 01:24


BIG NEWS STORY STING – LEELA: “The big news story of the week!”


MAMA: So Leela, when we were in London over Xmas – of course, we were only in our one neighborhood – but what did we notice everywhere when we went out that we hadn’t seen before?


LEELA: I’ll give you a clue… (barks like a dog)


MAMA: Yes!


LEELA: And not just that. (Meoows like a cat) We even saw a cat on a leash being walked in the park!


MAMA: One thing is for sure – the pandemic has seen a surge in pet ownership. In the UK 3.2 million households got a pet since the pandemic, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association.


LEELA: And guess what? More than half of the new owners are aged 16 to 34.


MAMA: Similar story in the US where there’s been a 70 percent increase in animals being taken home from shelters in two of America’s biggest cities – New York and LA.


LEELA: Yay! They’re no longer animal orphans!


MAMA: Well, the demand for new pets has increased so much that the price for pets in pet stores has gone up. And there has even been an increase – a 170 percent increase in fact – in pet-nappings!


LEELA: Uhhh! That’s awful!


MAMA: Yes, most famously, singer Lady Gaga’s dog walker was seriously hurt by men who made off with her two French bulldogs.


LEELA: That’s horrible!


MAMA: That’s unfortunately how the market works – when something is high demand, people go a bit crazy trying to supply it and sell it at a super high price.


LEELA: But it was a slightly different story in India, right?


MAMA: Yes, sadly at the beginning of the lockdown, pets were being abandoned as crazy rumors were going around that the coronavirus spread through pets. But after that was proved to be a bunch of hogwash –


LEELA: – doing the rounds on social media. Listeners: beware – don’t believe it, unless it’s from… a well known source!


MAMA: Good point. Well, soon enough the number of people in India getting pets started to rise too. And it’s no wonder. Just a year earlier a study called Dog Ownership and Survival confirmed that having a dog was good for you. Reviewing 70 years of research, the study concluded that owning a dog could actually lower your risk of dying by a whopping 24 percent!


LEELA: And, according to another study, having a dog is especially good for people who live alone. And there’s been a lot of being alone, during this pandemic – trust me!


MAMA: Not surprisingly this has meant that the pet food and pet toy business is also booming. The American Pet Products Association projects Americans will spend a record-high $99 billion this year on their pets, ranging from food to veterinary care.


Which is a lot – like more than the entire state budget of Florida!


But while pets are helping us cope during the pandemic— is it stressing them out? That’s the question National Geographic recently asked. First of all – for the existing pets, suddenly their space and alone-time was being gobbled up.


LEELA: Yeah, like, “Move over, this is my end of the sofa!”


MAMA: But also, pets – like children – can be effected by the happiness of their parent humans. So if you’re stressed, chances are your pet might get stressed too. Never mind it could be the pet that’s adding to your stress:


LEELA: “Am I walking Buddy enough?”


MAMA: “Does Lola like her food?”


LEELA: “What’s gonna happen when I go back to work?”


MAMA: “Yikes! I can’t afford this vet bill!”


LEELA: “Ahhhh! Stresss!!!! My head hurts!”




MAMA: So before you get a pet… think it all through. But once you have a pooch –


LEELA: Or kitty cat!


MAMA: Or a fish or whatever… Just remember to relax, look them they eye, with lots of tender, loving, care – and you’ll probably get the same back. Well, maybe not from the fish.


LEELA: Mama, the fish lovers are gonna write in and say, “balderdash!”


MAMA: Alright, alright… Now – drum roll please!




LEELA: What we really want to know –


MAMA: The UK’s most popular pandemic pet names are revealed, according to Go Compare – based on almost a 100-thousand insurance quotes –Let’s cut across to our London studio where our competition correspondents, Edie and Jude, are standing by with the envelopes…


LEELA: First, cats (of course!).


EDIE: Coco

JUDE: Willow

E: Leo

J: Bella

E: Charlie

J: Loki

E: Nala

J: Number 3 – Simba

E: Number 2 – Milo

J: And the number one cat name in the UK is – Luna!




MAMA: And now the most popular dog names are:


J: Charlie

E: Reggie

J: Bailey

E: Coco

J: Lola

E: Buddy

J: Teddy

E: Number three – Milo

J: Number two – Bela

E: And the number one name for dogs in the UK is… Luna!




LEELA: Thanks Edie and Jude! Well, I guess there’s a lot of moon lovers around.


MAMA: Well, I guess the pandemic has slowed everyone down a bit and allowed them to have their heads in the clouds…


LEELA: Guess they’re just going through a phase. Get it?


MAMA: And by the way, the US list for most popular dog names was released back in October and it was Max for male dogs and Bella for female dogs, though Luna was first runner up.


LEELA: Links to all these lists will be in our show notes and transcript.




AMEYAA: (Laughing!)


LEELA: Wait – who’s that?


MAMA: Huh?


LEELA: Laughing?!


MAMA: Oh, yeah.


LEELA: Hello? Who’s there?


AMEYAA: It’s me, Ameyaa! Your Finland correspondent.


LEELA: Ameyaa Kholi? Well, what’s so funny?


AMEYAA: Nothing. I’m just happy!


LEELA: Uhhhh…  About what?


AMEYAA: Just ‘cos.


LEELA: We’re in the middle of a  pandemic and most of us can’t even go to school… What’s there to be so happy about?


AMEYAA: I’m part Finnish – we’re usually happy!


At least according to the World Happiness Report.


You see, Finland – for the fourth year in a row – has been named the “happiest place in the world!”


LEELA: Whoaaa. How do  they even measure happiness?


AMEYAA: Well people in 149 countries rate their own happiness.


They answer questions, like how much social support they get, how much personal freedom they have.


And, if they have to deal with corruption – that means people in power cheating you.


LEELA: I see… And what about the US, the UK and India? How do they rank?


AMEYAA: Sadly, India was almost at the bottom – ranking 139th . The UK was 17th and the US ranked 19th.


LEELA: Hmmm. You’d think they’d be higher on the happy list, since they’re so much richer, you know?


AMEYAA: Yeah… But there IS some good news for everyone.


Across the board, when people evaluated their OWN lives, they said there was no decline in their well-being.




LEELA: Whaaaat? But what about the pandemic?!


AMEYAA: That’s the thing.


Experts think because Covid-19 is a common threat to ALL of us – there’s a greater sense of solid-arity and togetherness.


LEELA: Ooooh… Like, we’re all in this together? So it’s not so bad.


AMEYAA: Exactly.


LEELA: I can see that. Cool! Well, thanks for this news flash, Ameyaa. You’ve lifted my mood!


AMEYAA: Naturally, I’m Finnish. We like being happy! (laugh some more!)


LEELA: (laughs)




WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… it’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.”



Thousands of people are evacuated from their homes in Australia’s state of New South Wales as the rain pounds down – and maybe also because of all the spiders and snakes trying to enter homes to escape the rain themselves. Some areas have had almost a meter (or just over 3 feet) of rain in their worst floods for nearly half a century.


Was it a party or a massive experiment? The Dutch government let 3000 people attend a music festival– side by side and without masks. They just had to show negative COVID-19 test results and agree to be tagged with a sensor to monitor their interaction, so researchers can find out if and how we can party in a pandemic.


A painting paying tribute to health workers in the pandemic has been sold for more than 23 million dollars. Why the high price tag? It’s by the famous and incredibly mysterious street graffiti artist, Banksy.

The painting, in which a little boy is playing with a super hero nurse doll, appeared in hospital in Britain, during the first wave of the pandemic.


Sporting legend Tony Hawk is skating off into the sunset. The 52-year-old skateboarding pro is doing tricks for the last time and just retired one of his famous moves. Hawk was understandably emotional after landing the trick he made famous – his signature ollie 540 – for the last ever time.




MAMA: Leela, what’s your favorite food?


LEELA: Crispy Dosa,  idly, pizza and… sushi!


MAMA: Oh, hmmph. And if you had to choose a single favorite?


LEELA: Sushi!


MAMA: That’s what I thought. Now, what would you do to get some free sushi – like all-you-can eat?


LEELA:  Ummm… I can sing and dance…


MAMA: OK. But would you change your name?




MAMA: Would you call yourself Leela Sushi Prickitt? Or how about since you love salmon sushi – Leela Salmon Prickitt– if it meant you could get like loads of free sushi?


LEELA: Oh yeah, in a heartbeat!


MAMA: Well then you’re in good company, because that is whats happening with hundreds of people in Taiwan. For more on this…


LEELA: We need to go to our Taiwan correspondent Yuching Liu! YuChing – what on earth is happening?!


YUCHING: Well, Leela, in Taiwan people are crazy for sushi.


And when I say crazy… I really mean it!


You see, there’s a fast-food-chain – Akindo Sushiro – that’s offering anyone who can show their name is Gui Yu, or “salmon,” – AND five of their friends – a free all-you-can-eat sushi meal.


Well… it’s an unusual name.


So the company probably thought they were on safe ground…  until people started changing their names!


One student changed her name to “Kuo Salmon Rice Bowl.”


Can you imagine that?!


Others changed their names to: “Meteor Salmon King,” “Salmon Prince,” and “Salmon Fried Rice.”


Of course they plan to change their name’s back.


You see it’s pretty simple to do this in Taiwan.


You just have to pay around three dollars for a new ID card and a registration certificate.


Which is probably why nearly THREE HUNDRED people have done so already!


Well, soon officials figured something “fishy” was going on…!


And now they’re asking people to stop wasting the government’s time by changing their name to salmon – just for the sake of sushi!


I’m Yuching Liu reporting for Newsy Pooloozi


LEELA: Thanks Yuching.


MAMA: Now, there’s an update on this story that’s just come in… some people are having so much fun with this promotion that one man even changed his name to the maximum characters he could and is now called “Cheng has a terrifying dragon cannon. I’m in a relationship with my girlfriend… I will love you all my life. I want to take you to eat Salmon in my life.” Yeah.


LEELA: (laughs) That’s so funny, my stomach aches.


MAMA: Are you sure it wasn’t the sushi…?


LEELA: Hey, Mama.


MAMA: Hey Leela.


LEELA: What’s a sushi lover’s favorite game?


MAMA: Uhhhhh…


LEELA: Salmon says. Get it? Not Simon says, but salmon…



LEELA: OK, folks, as if that story weren’t odd enough… Let’s have a listen to what the lucky dip machine is gonna spit out this week…


ODDBALL STING – LEELA/MAMA/JACKSON: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? And odd ball, no doubt!”


LEELA: Oh, yes, this is a jaw-dropper. Don’t know what that means? Well, listen to this story… and see if your jaw doesn’t drop open by the time we get to the end. So, Mama.


MAMA: So, Leela.


LEELA: Ever heard of a Rubik’s cube?


MAMA: Of course, the colorful psychological torture device designed to make you feel dumb. I mean… that fantastic, 3D, tactile, screen-free puzzle, designed to test your mind and make it think outside the, umm, cube.


LEELA: Right…. Actually, the Rubik’s cube is a 3D combination-puzzle, invented in 1974 – not by a teacher or toy maker – but a sculptor and professor of architecture from Hungry, a man called Emo Rubik.


And it’s estimated that one-FIFTH  of humanity has played this puzzle. Impressive or what?


MAMA: Yeah. Now let’s see – gimme that. So there’s 9 little cubes attached together but can move – all the same color – on each side, with six sides in total. And the idea is, once it’s scrambled up, to get it back to each side having the same color. Easy peasy. Not.


LEELA: So here’s a fabulous fact – how many combinations, or ways to arrange the squares, do you reckon there are?


MAMA: Yeeaaaaah, math! OK, ummmmm… Six times 9 is 54 but then nine different… Oh, I don’t know, around 10-thousand.


LEELA: Oh, no, keep going.


MAMA: Oh, geeze. A million?


LEELA: Nope – not even close. Over 43 quintillion!


MAMA: Quinta-what?


LEELA: Oh, that’s a billion billions! So, it’s 43 with EIGHTEEN zeros at the end!


MAMA: OK – that’s a lot of options.


LEELA: But only one, single, solitary right answer. And get this – even after Emo Rubik invented it – he couldn’t solve it!


MAMA: What?!


LEELA: Not immediately. It took him a month to finally figure out the solution!


MAMA: Oh, that makes me feel so much better.


LEELA: Yeah, well, be prepared to feel, ummm… less than sharp again.




LEELA: You see, the solution can be learned pretty easily by memorizing a few set methods, or algorithms, and how to apply them.


MAMA: Right, yeah. Totally.


LEELA: Which is what Atharva R Bhat from –


MAMA: Let me guess – south India.


LEELA: Yep, Bengaluru. That’s what he does.


MAMA: Oh, is he one of those geniuses who can solve the puzzle in like half a minute?


LEELA: Mama, the fastest speed-cuber can do it 3.47 seconds!


MAMA: What?! How is that even possible?


LEELA: And some do it with just one hand! Others blindfolded!


MAMA: Oh my stars!


LEELA: And some… like Atharva in Bengaluru, took longer than 4 seconds… because he can do one in each hand at the same time!




LEELA: Are you ok?


MAMA: I’m fine. My head is just about to explode.


LEELA: Well, here, hold my hand, because I’m not finished.


MAMA: Oh my gosh.


LEELA: Atharva R Bhat has just entered the Guinness Book of World records for solving not one, not two, but three Rubik’s cubes – AT THE SAME TIME – in 1 minute and 29 seconds.


MAMA: Three? How…?


LEELA: His feet. One cube in each hand and one with his feet. Close your mouth, Mama. A mosquito might fly in. And I’m not done.


MAMA: (Moans)


LEELA: He’s also only… 8-years-old!




LEELA: Uhhhhh…..




FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – A study in 2019 called Dog Ownership and Survival confirmed that having a dog is  good for you. Reviewing 70 years of research, the study concluded that owning a dog could actually lower your risk of dying by how much? A whopping 24 percent!


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – And, according to another study, having a dog is especially good for what kind of people? Having a dog is especially good for people who live alone.


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – And it’s estimated that one-FIFTH  of humanity has played WHAT popular puzzle.

The 3D puzzle, the Rubik’s Cube, is so popular it’s likely to have been played by one-FIFTH  of humanity has played this puzzle.


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – The Rubik’s Cube is a 3D combination-puzzle, invented in 1974 by the Hungarian man Emo Rubik. What was his profession?

Emo Rubik was not really a toy maker – but a sculptor and professor of architecture.


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – There are over 43 quintillion different combinations you can get while trying to solve the Rubik’s Cube. But, uhhhh, how much is 43 quintillion.

A quintillion is a billion billions! So, it’s a number with EIGHTEEN zeros at the end!


LEELA: And that almost brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!!!!! But, first, we have some amaaaaazing news.


MAMA: The New York Times just put out “The Big List of Podcasts for Big Kids” – highlighting 30 of the top children’s podcast around the world.


LEELA: And we made the list!!!


MAMA: Oh my goodness – we did! We are so, so thrilled and flattered – especially to be in the company of some of the best podcasts around. Like the ones Leela listens to over and over.


LEELA: Oh, yeah.


MAMA: Like The Alien Adventures of Fin Caspian, Eleanor Amplified, Mystery Recipe and The Past and The Curious – that last one, which, keeping our promise to highlight podcasts that feature some of the greatest woman in history – for Women’s History Month – that is a treasure trove of girl power stories. So check it out.


LEELA: And… maybe what we’re doing – telling you about some awesome podcasts to check out, YOU could do too. Tell a friend about us, Newsy Pooloozi. Go on, spread the bubbles!


See you next week in the Newsy Pooloozi!