News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

WEEK OF MARCH 24, 2002


-- Wired magazine reported in March that two German designers have invented a computer game with hand sensors allowing the administration of shocks and burns to opponents, with the winner being the player who can stand it longer. Painstation (not affiliated with Sony) is based on the old game Pong, and if a player misses the ball, it will hit randomly arranged Pain Inflictor Symbols (heat, jolts, shocks of varying degrees). The game ends when one player lifts his hand off the Pain Endurance Unit.

-- In March, the Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) StarPhoenix, citing several witnesses inside the Pine Grove Correctional Centre, reported that some formerly heroin-addicted female inmates so desperately crave methadone that they routinely consume the fresh vomit of inmates currently on methadone treatment because enough is still present in the regurgitation. The newspaper uncovered the practice while investigating the death of an inmate in February. Said a source, "The whole building knows (that the inmate choked on vomit). That's how she died."

Latest Cutting-Edge Research

The journal Experimental Biology and Medicine reported that regulating men's hand temperature has no effect on the temperature of the rectum but that regulating scrotal temperature does. And a University of Hertfordshire professor, working with the British Association for the Advancement of Science, concluded that the world's funniest joke involved Dr. Watson's attributing worldly significance to campground star-gazing while Sherlock Holmes was recognizing that if he looked up and saw stars, it meant only that someone had stolen their tent. And an August Journal of Sex Research report by two Georgia State University professors concluded that people who desire sex but are not having it are grumpier than those who are having it or who don't want it.

The Litigious Society

-- Kaziah Hancock and Cindy Stewart won almost $300,000 in damages in January from a breakaway Mormon sect in Manti, Utah, based on their lawsuit for fraud claiming that self-proclaimed prophet Jim Harmston failed on several promises, including one to produce Jesus Christ himself in the flesh. Hancock said Harmston persuaded her to give 67 acres of land to the church and that the church would give her back a place to live but that after the church made one payment on the new place, Harmston said God told him to stop paying.

-- In December, the Department of Justice applied to dismiss the lawsuit filed last year by Salah Idris, owner of the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that President Clinton ordered destroyed in 1998, supposedly as retaliation for terrorism (in that the U.S. thought the plant was a bomb-making factory). According to Idris, however, Clinton ordered the attack mainly to divert political attention in that the raid took place only three days after Clinton had admitted for the first time to having had an improper relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

-- In March, a Canadian federal judge refused to quash convicted murderer David Wild's $2 million (U.S.) lawsuit against the Mission Medium Security Institution in British Columbia. Wild claims the guards aren't quiet enough when they do nighttime bed checks and thus make getting a good night's sleep impossible, causing Wild headaches, loss of balance, blurred vision, irritability and depression, and leave him too weary to play in the prison's soccer tournament.

Not My Fault

-- Fugitive Harvey Taylor, 48, told reporters in February from his hospital bed in Bangor, Maine, that he would soon sue the sheriff's deputy who failed to arrest him fast enough, a delay that resulted in Taylor's spending three nights in the woods and losing two toes to frostbite. Taylor said that after fleeing the pursuing squad car, he got lost in the woods in hip-deep snow and that "(n)obody looked for me, not even the detective that I'm going to sue as soon as I can find me an attorney that will take the case." Taylor is a convicted sex offender wanted for probation violations in Brevard County, Fla.

-- Paul Andrew Jackson was awarded about $31,000 (U.S.) in March in his lawsuit against the provincial Roads and Traffic Authority after hurting his back at a bicycle bridge near Wollongong, Australia. Jackson, a 35-year-old surfer, had stepped over a guardrail in the dark to relieve himself but underestimated the drop-off (after a self-reported six-beer night), falling 40 feet down and momentarily knocking himself unconscious.

People Different From Us

In March, a 39-year-old man who was described as someone who helped out with autopsies in Cochise County, Ariz., was sentenced to a year and a half in prison for fondling the corpse of a 17-year-old girl and taking pictures of it and other bodies in what the police called a "continuing fascination with the dead." Though initially he was also charged with a crime against a minor, that charge was dropped, as the man assured prosecutors that there were no live victims associated with his activities.

Unclear on the Concept

In a joint federal-state child-protection announcement in December, the German government proposed that online pornography Web sites could transmit only between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. (which, for example, is 5 p.m. to midnight in New York and 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. in California). And a vacancy announcement for the Auburn University football team's defensive coordinator (a job filled in February by Mr. Gene Chizik) listed minimum qualifications as "seven years experience as NCAA Division I defensive secondary coach," but then noted that "women are encouraged to apply."

Recurring Themes

Bizarros in the News: The man arrested in February for violating the FAA's remain-seated rules for Olympics airline flights into Salt Lake City (who, despite repeated warnings, said he just had to get to the rest room) was Mr. Richard Bizarro. Before that, the family's good name was most prominently maintained by Mr. Joe Bizarro (no relation), spokesperson for Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth during the state's 2000 presidential election recount crisis.

Our Civilization in Decline

In March, police in Jaipur, India, arrested 81 bookmakers who had been offering bets as to whether the Hindu-Muslim riots would escalate to adjacent states (as well as offering over-under bets on the number of casualties). And Reuters reported in March that veterinarians in Jerusalem are finding that more dogs suffer panic attacks due to increased gunfire and are generally prescribing Valium for them. And through inattentiveness of the Albuquerque telephone directory's publisher, sex-oriented businesses were listed in the latest edition under "Incest Abuse" and "Rape Abuse," thus compounding victims' anguish when they inadvertently called for counseling.

And, in the Last Month ...

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that financially faltering parishes should rent out their buildings part-time as "disco" clubs (London). A man and woman, both 24, were arrested after they had urgently pulled off a highway, into a private driveway, at 7 a.m., to have ostentatious sex, even though there was $11,000 worth of marijuana in their car (West Rockhill Township, Pa.). On International Women's Day (March 8), a female judge dismissed all domestic violence charges against a firefighter on the grounds that the man was a career hero but would be forced to retire if convicted (Hamilton City, New Zealand). The California Supreme Court ruled that police could arrest and search a person whose only offense was riding his bicycle against traffic, if the cyclist was not carrying identification.

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