News of the Weird

Week of August 12, 2001

LEAD STORIES

-- July marked the appearance of a glossy, 32-page publication, Mainline Lady, funded by the Health Ministry in the Netherlands and designed to resemble a newsstand fashion magazine, for the purpose of helping drug-addicted women feel better about their health and appearance. Included are articles on rejuvenating heroin-ravaged dry skin, putting on weight, and disguising needle marks with makeup, as well as an upbeat horoscope column tailored to the everyday problems of drug addicts.

-- In 1993, John and Narda Goff's 10-year-old daughter was sexually molested by a man using his finger for penetration, an attack which at the time was, under Ohio law, merely "assault" and not "rape." The Goffs campaigned and finally persuaded the Ohio legislature in 1996 to broaden the law to include any forced penetration. In July 2001, the Goffs were charged with violating that very law, having impregnated the same daughter in 1998 with stepfather John's sperm (using a syringe), allegedly because Narda is infertile and the couple wanted a baby "together." (Actually, according to the daughter, John Goff was sexually molesting her before that, even during the time the Goffs were crusading for a stronger rape law.)

-- Max & Mina's kosher ice cream parlor in Kew Gardens Hills, N.Y., was featured in a July Jewish Week piece, bringing readers up to date on the many offbeat flavors the store makes (all rich in butterfat but meeting various Jewish dietary standards): "lox," "corn on the cob," "horseradish," "peanut butter and jelly," "beer and nuts" and "campfire delight" (principal taste: baked beans). The store also once made (but has discontinued) a "broccoli" ice cream.

First, Do No Harm

-- A 30-year-old patient was awarded $2.1 million by a jury in Spokane, Wash., in January after evidence that neuropsychiatrist Donald Dudley (who died before trial) tried to chemically erase part of the man's brain and turn him into a trained killer. And in June, a medical board in Ontario found psychiatrist Raymond Danny Leibl guilty of "disgraceful" conduct in treating a 53-year-old woman by disciplining her like a baby, giving her sodium amytal with vodka to improve her memory, and having her call him "Mommydaddy Ray." And in May, a medical board in Oklahoma removed plastic surgeon Scott Gilbert's license after evidence of several lapses of care, including the use of wood screws and Superglue on patients.

Can't Possibly Be True

-- According to a June report in Britain's The Guardian, at least two schools in Belgium's Limburg province will begin serving a kind of very-low-alcohol beer in public school cafeterias beginning in September, in an effort to wean kids aged 3 to 15 from sugary sodas and fruit juice.

-- The Washington state board charged with evaluating college-degree programs last year approved a bachelor's and master's degree curriculum in "astrological studies" for the Kepler College of Astrological Arts and Sciences in Seattle. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, only 20 of the 31 initial enrollees made it through the first year. Said Kepler president Enid D. Newburg, "Most people weren't used to a college level of study." Said one student, who said she is a veteran of an honors program at the University of Texas, "(T)he faculty at Kepler just blows away any of the professors I had (in Texas)."

-- At the Innovate 2001 expo in London in July, British inventor David Morrow introduced "Consent Condoms," designed to protect men from charges of date rape in that each condom comes with a fingerprint-sensitive tab of paper on which the man's partner can acknowledge that the act is consensual. Morrow says the fingerprint is more reliable than oral assent and that, unlike a signature, is deliverable while the partner is in the throes of ecstasy. (Among Innovate 2001's other exhibits was the "Ice Baton," billed as a "natural way" to relieve hemorrhoids.)

-- Singapore's Straits Times reported in July that the health office in Muar, Malaysia, had shut down a food stall and arrested its proprietor because he was boiling dirty underwear in pots with food, which he said, according to legend, improved the taste of the food. Said a health official, "(T)his is an untrue belief and must be stopped."

People Different From Us

-- In July, Greg Daniels, 51, said he will challenge the Austin, Texas, police department's towing of his cars, arguing that just because he happens to own about a dozen cars, which he parks in the street in front of his house and uses in rotation, doesn't mean that any of them is junk (which is what he has been cited for as police tow the cars away). Daniels, who told the Austin American-Statesman that his cars are always legally parked, was forced to buy some of them back once after the city confiscated them. He says he's just not ready to settle down with just two or three of his favorites.

Least Competent Criminals

-- Richard S. Markey, 44, convicted in Hartford, Conn., of defrauding investors of $4.8 million, wrote U.S. marshals in April that he thought he had presented a strong case for his innocence and that therefore he wouldn't be reporting to prison as scheduled on May 2, but rather was going to a relative's place near Syracuse, N.Y., and that if he didn't hear anything more from the marshals, he would consider the case closed. (He did hear from them; they looked him up and re-arrested him. During his trial, Markey had described himself not as a "person" subject to the laws of the U.S., but as a "sovereign," and besides, he claimed the charges had to be dismissed because the prosecutor had spelled his name in all-capitals on the indictment.)

Recurring Themes

-- In 1997 News of the Weird reported on two mid-career professionals (a nurse and a lawyer) who had made new beginnings as "pet psychics," who charged $40 a half-hour to help on relationship problems between owners and pets by conversing directly with the animals about their problems (even though some pet-clients are handled only by phone). In a June 2001 story, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiled pet "intuitive" Carol Schultz, 35, who does paw-readings and counsels pets that suffer trauma, such as the three-legged cat feeling guilty because he was inadequate at litter-box-burying, and the dog that felt trapped inside a cat's body (who "had some issues," Schultz said, because his name was Duke).

Thinning the Herd

-- A 22-year-old man was killed when he stopped his car in traffic and walked back to the driver behind him to express his road rage, and was fatally hit by a driver in the next lane (Columbus, Ohio, May). A 19-year-old student at the University of Texas at Austin, notorious for playing fire-related pranks on his friends, was killed after apparently starting a prank fire that destroyed his apartment (May). An 18-year-old man was killed when three sticks of dynamite that the man habitually carried around (for no apparent reason) in a backpack exploded (Winnemucca, Nev., June).

Also, in the Last Month ...

-- Three men and a woman hoisted a homeowner's entire metal, two-car garage onto their pickup truck and attempted to drive off with it before abandoning it in the street when the structure broke (Detroit). An Oklahoma State University research team said its sliced peanut butter (wrapped in plastic sleeves like single-slice cheese) would be on grocery shelves in U.S. test markets soon. Political correctness hit India when authorities in Jammu and Kashmir banned the word "widow" for fear it would further upset women whose husbands have died in recent separatist battles (approved: "wife of late (name)"). A barroom gunfight was averted when an inebriated man, waving a pellet gun in his prosthetic arm, watched as the arm came off and fell to the floor (El Paso, Texas).

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or Weird@compuserve.com, or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com/.)

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