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Pleasures of the Educated Class: In July, Reuters profiled British mathematician (doctoral degree) Rosi Sexton, 26, on her avocation of "cage fighting" (using martial arts and near-mayhem tactics to beat opponents into submission), which she compares to chess; another cage fighter (a college professor), said the sport "requires good problem-solving skills and a good understanding of anatomy and body mechanics." Also in July, Doug Lenhart, who holds a doctorate in business administration, pleaded guilty in Pittsburgh to several charges for botching a castration, which he had performed on a consenting male-to-female transsexual. [Reuters, 7-5-04] [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7-7-04]


People Who Need to Improve Their Excuses

(1) A 27-year-old man, arrested in July after allegedly trying to rob a Bank of America in Enid, Okla., told police he merely intended to help repay the national debt. (2) Thomas Pinckney, 18, charged with trespass in Tomah, Wis., in June after a woman awoke at night to find him holding her arm, told police that he had found the woman's keys in her apartment door and was just trying to return them. (3) Mr. Thubten Dargyel, 53, who was arrested for sexual assault on a mentally disabled woman in Madison, Wis., in June, explained the presence of his semen by claiming that he ejaculates when he sneezes and that, in fact, he was surprised only that his semen doesn't show up on many other patients, too. [KTUL-TV-AP, 8-3-04] [Tomah (Wis.) Monitor-Herald, 6-25-04] [Capital Times (Madison), 7-16-04]


Most Competent Animals

Koko, the famous gorilla that was taught about a thousand words in American Sign Language, had recently been telling her handlers at her apartment at the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, Calif., that her mouth hurt. It was only a toothache, but treatment would require her to be anesthetized, and the foundation decided to take advantage and give her a complete physical, with specialists volunteering to work on a "star." (Said Dr. David Liang of Stanford's medical school, "Koko is less demanding" than other celebrities.) Afterward, according to an Associated Press reporter, Koko met with her doctors and motioned one woman to come closer. The woman, awed by this brilliant animal, playfully handed Koko her business card, which Koko promptly ate. [ABC News-AP, 8-8-04]


Smooth Reactions

In June, Nebraska's Health and Human Services agency revoked the license of mental health therapist Robert Powers based on an incident in which he, after receiving a memo denying him his own key to the office supply cabinet, pulled out a .22-caliber handgun and fired several shots at the document. And Clay Sullivan faced municipal charges in July resulting from his behavior as a parade marshal (on horseback) during the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days; protesting the needless towing of a car along the parade route, Sullivan lassoed the tow truck driver and yanked him away from the car. [Associated Press, 6-28-04] [Newsday-AP, 7-27-04]


Questionable Judgments

Writing in the journal Pediatrics (August 2004), Israeli physicians cautioned against a traditional form of circumcision in which blood is cleaned from the wound not by a suction device but by the circumciser's taking wine into his mouth and then sucking the blood from the wound. Researchers, led by Dr. Benjamin Gesundheit of Ben-Gurion University, found eight cases of infants having developed herpes from circumcisers' mouths. [Reuters, 8-4-04]

In a federal court in Austin, Texas, in June, accused bank robber Adam Martin, 38, acting dramatically as his own lawyer, inexplicably called his brother Michael as a character witness even though he knew that Michael had already pleaded guilty to being Adam's partner on four robberies. Adam asked if Michael had ever committed any crimes. Predictably (that is, to everyone except Adam), Michael responded, "Yeah. You were with me on four different bank robberies, Adam. You know that." [Austin American-Statesman, 6-29-04]


Latest Religious Messages

In June, Norway's Labor Inspection Authority rejected the official registration papers filed by the Skjargard School, a private Christian fundamentalist institution that nonetheless receives much federal assistance. The authority said it needed to see a better organization chart in order to track lines of responsibility, because the chart Skjargard submitted merely listed as its CEO Jesus Christ. [Aftenposten, 6-18-04]

Separation of Church and Bedroom: A 43-year-old Catholic priest and a 26-year-old nun were sentenced to six-month suspended sentences in July after they were caught by police having sex in the back seat of a Toyota Corolla at the Lilongwe International Airport in Malawi. And in Birnin Kebbi, Nigeria, in August, police raided the headquarters of an Islamic breakaway sect, the Yan-Gwagwarmaya, whose conventions are at odds with the mainstream in several ways, most notably its devotion to wife-swapping. [bBC News, 7-29-04] [bBC News, 8-5-04]


People Different From Us

The legendarily devoted anthropologist John Peabody Harrington passed away in 1961 and left six tons of disorganized belongings in various warehouses, attics, basements, and even chicken coops. Most of the items were quixotic, inexplicable junk. However, according to a July 2004 Los Angeles Times report, there are also 1 million pages of valuable notes in nearly indecipherable code, which will require 20 years to organize and are strewn amongst, apparently, everything Harrington ever possessed, including dirty laundry, half-eaten food, and "a box of birds stored for 30 years without the benefit of taxidermy." According to anthropologists, Harrington's records are absolutely crucial because in some cases his work forms the only written evidence of certain Native American languages. [Los Angeles Times, 7-2-04]


Almost All True

Three of these four things really happened, just recently. Are you cynical enough to figure out the made-up story? (Answer below.) (a) Identical male twins were revealed to be the registered owners of a Russian Web site devoted to nude photos of female Siamese twins. (b) A male nurse who had just pleaded guilty to lewd conduct with a handicapped boy was merely transferred by his employer (a California government agency) away from children, to work in its animal-care facility. © A distributor in Florida moved more than 10,000 units of a plastic toy premium (inside bags of candy) that depicts planes flying into the World Trade Center. (d) An Oregon couple pleaded guilty to several instances of punishing their two kids' bad behavior by allowing their pit-bull dog to attack them.


The IQ-Diminishing Aspect of the Fourth of July

Two 16-year-old boys were hospitalized after trying to extract gunpowder (for July 4 fireworks) from shotgun shells by using a sledgehammer (Houston). A 19-year-old man used an explosive to blast a fire hydrant cap into the air on July 4 to see how far up it would go, but was hospitalized when the cap landed on his head (Chicago). A 17-year-old boy was killed when he peered down a mortar tube at the wrong time during a July 4 fireworks demonstration (Webster, Wis.). [Associated Press, 7-6-04] [Chicago Sun-Times, 7-5-04] [star Tribune (Minneapolis), 7-6-04]


Recurring Themes

The unnamed young man who won the latest "Jackass" contest, sponsored by Chicho's Restaurant in Virginia Beach, Va., in August, first came to the attention of police when he was spotted wandering around at 1 a.m. bleeding from an amateur Mohawk haircut. Also, his chest, stomach, buttocks and legs were heavily industrial-strength stapled, and he had slice marks on his side and a broken collarbone (from a back flip off the bar). He had also swallowed and vomited a live goldfish and broken a beer bottle over his head, but all in all, he said, he was proud. (The restaurant manager was fired.) [Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk), 8-7-04]


Readers' Choice

John Hutcherson, 21, was arrested in Marietta, Ga., in August for vehicular homicide and DUI after he drove 12 miles home and went to bed, allegedly oblivious of the dead body of his good friend that was hanging out his passenger-side window. According to police, the 23-year-old pal had been decapitated by a telephone pole guide wire when he stuck his head out the window after Hutcherson veered off the road. A neighbor alerted police the next morning when he saw the body still draped on the door of Hutcherson's truck. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8-30-04]


Answer to Almost All True: (b), © and (d) are true. [OC Weekly, 8-20-04] [ABC News-AP, 8-27-04] [New York Post-AP, 8-22-04]

Thanks This Week to Jim Roscovius, Brandi Kelley, Ray Rideout, Emory Kimbrough, Diane Fine, Mindy Cohen, Ramon Hernandez, Gary Davidson, Ashleigh Etheridge, Debra Taylor, and Jack deRemer, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or WeirdNews@earthlink.net or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com.)



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