News of the Weird 

Campaign Roundup (continued)

 Sitcoms: In October, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, in Pittsburgh to campaign for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, antagonized anti-Santorum demonstrators by blowing them a kiss, and in the ensuing chaos, Bush was forced to take refuge in a train station supply closet. And Kansas state Rep. Vaughn Flora was charged with a misdemeanor after an October political event when he allegedly roughed up an anti-abortion protester dressed as a cockroach. And in Tampa in August, public-access TV host Tony Katz threw a chair at his guest, county commission candidate Joe Redner, hitting him in the head (after he had called Redner a liar and Redner had called him fat).

Family Values: Republican U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood of Pennsylvania was trailing in his race for re-election, owing in large part to the lawsuit filed two years ago by his 29-year-old mistress, alleging that the supposedly happily married Sherwood beat and strangled her. (Sherwood settled the lawsuit and acknowledged the affair but denied any abuse.) And Ohio Democrats had to scramble in September to find a replacement to run for a U.S. House seat after their original nominee, Stephanie Studebaker, was jailed along with her husband after the couple brawled at their home in Dayton.

Can’t Possibly Be True

The chosen professional interest of biologist David Scholnick of Pacific University (Forest Grove, Ore.) is in how shrimp act when they get an infection, which he gauged by building a tiny treadmill in order to run crustaceans through their paces to measure blood lactate levels. “As far as I know,” Scholnick told LiveScience.com in October, “this is the first time that shrimp have been exercised on a treadmill.” To increase the shrimps’ stress, Scholnick designed tiny backpacks out of duct tape but still found that healthy shrimp could go for about an hour without fatigue.

Great Art!

Simon Pope’s “Gallery Space Recall” exhibit at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Wales, in October is a startlingly empty room, with patrons called upon to supply the art by imagining another art show they have seen so that, wrote Pope, the two exhibits “exist at two locations simultaneously, both here and there.” (Pope wrote that the exhibit suggested the brain-injury disorder “reduplicative paramnesia,” in which a person has a delusional belief that something exists at two places at once.)

Government in Action

The Havering town council in Romford, England, prepared a 300-page report in October, which was the result of a 12-month investigation, to find out who had heckled a speaker at a zoning meeting by making “baaa” noises. The authors said they had narrowed the list of suspects. And in September, London’s mayor Ken Livingstone defended his downtown anti-pigeon program, which consisted of empowering two hawks to scare the birds away, even though the three-year cost of the program (including a handler) was the equivalent of more than $400,000, which reduced the menace by 2,500 pigeons, or about $170 a bird.

A civic group in Vienna, Austria, gathered 157,000 signatures on petitions in May and presented them to city officials to encourage a government program toward cleaner streets. Under the proposal, the government would assign the populace the task of counting and mapping dog droppings as a first step to greater penalties for owners who fail to clean up after their mutts. Critics were pessimistic that citizens wanted to count and map dog droppings.

Police Blotter

In October, Robert Russel Moore, 33, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the burglary of an Arby’s in Prince Frederick, Md. Actually, Moore was assistant manager of the restaurant and was identified by clues from the surveillance tape. Four employees said they recognized the burglar’s body shape, clothing and (when he bent over) the distinctive top portion of his buttocks, as being those of Moore. (The owner of the restaurant said he had had to counsel Moore “more than once” about the inadvertent exposure of his butt crack.)

The Continuing Crisis

In October, California environmentalists and health officials said they might have to undertake a one-by-one investigation of septic tanks in the movie-star-populated Malibu community in order to find the leaks that have been fouling the coastline. The final decision won’t be made, according to an Associated Press report, until officials test the sea water to determine whether the sewage has human DNA or is from animals, such as runoff from chicken farms, which is the preferred explanation of actress-vegetarian Pamela Anderson.

A 33-year-old woman was detained by police in September after complaints by residents at a mobile home park in Michigan City, Ind., that she had been having sex in an untinted-windowed limousine on one of the park’s streets, in front of what grew to be a large crowd, mostly yelling at her for her indecency. At one point, according to police, the otherwise-occupied woman yelled back at the crowd defiantly that she was “doing adult business” and “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”

Least Competent People

Slapstick: (1) Inspecting the Dukovany nuclear power plant in Moravia in September, an unnamed American official with the International Atomic Energy Agency wandered away from the group and fell into a water tank. (2) In September, firefighters in Spokane, Wash., rescued a worker whose head had become stuck in a water meter enclosure for about four hours. (3) In October, when Turkey’s prime minister Tayyip Erdogan fainted from low blood sugar, his security team rushed him to a hospital but mistakenly locked him and the keys inside his fortified car; after they pounded on it for a while, a nearby construction worker with a sledgehammer saved the day.


In October, health officials in China again warned citizens against the increasingly popular but seriously painful leg-stretching “Ilizarov procedure” (mentioned in News of the Weird in 2002), believed to add as much as a couple of inches to a person’s height (and, consequently, stature). The patient’s leg is deliberately broken and affixed to a rack, with the leg stretched slightly every day so that the bones fuse together to cover the separated space, lengthening the leg. (Said one 33-year-old, 5-foot-tall woman in 2002, aiming for four more inches: “I’ll have a better job (and) a better husband. It’s a long-term investment.”)

Thinning the Herd

The latest casualty of quick-draw practice: a 19-year-old man in Evans, Colo., in September, who, working out in front of a mirror, somehow fatally shot himself in the head. And the latest pedestrian-train collisions: (1) a 30-year-old woman in Little Rock, Ark., in October, who was walking along the tracks carrying a beer and listening to music with headphones, and (2) an 18-year-old man in Kenosha, Wis., in September, who, probably inebriated, first left the tracks well in front of the train but then returned, stood on the tracks, and made a finger gesture at the conductor.

About The Author

Chuck Shepherd

More by Chuck Shepherd


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