News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

WEEK OF OCTOBER 17, 2004

LEAD STORY

A new computer gadget enables someone to apply direct physical stimulation sexually to another person over the Internet, thus advancing "cybersex" far beyond its previous limitation of mere words and pictures. According to a September report on Wired.com, the vibrating "Sinulator," with wireless receiver, can be activated remotely at different speeds and force by a spouse or anyone else who uses the device's password at Sinulator's Web site, and that manipulation can be done not only by keyboard and mouse, but by a male placing the Sinulator's transmitting sleeve ("Interactive Fleshlight") over his penis and thrusting at his (or the recipient's) preferred speed and force. "Thus," summarized the Wired writer, "a man can be thrusting in Cleveland while a woman is penetrated in Seattle."

Their Genes Are Still in the Pool

In Clarksville, Ind., in June, Jason Grisham, 22, miraculously survived after climbing an electrical tower (scrambling past several obstacles and ignoring warning signs) and accidentally absorbing a virtually always-fatal 69,000 volts. And in September, the Ohio Supreme Court overturned a judge's order to Sean Talty to not procreate further until he had settled the $38,000 child-support tab for his first seven children (thus facilitating Talty's fathering even more people with his perhaps-genetic predisposition to irresponsibility).

Throw the Book at 'Em!

In February, a 38-year-old Disneyland worker was killed when he fell from a three-part parade float and became trapped between the second and third sections. Disney's float was termed a "serious" workplace violation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and in August, it fined the multibillion-dollar company $6,300.

Fine Points of the Law

(1) Day-care operator Ronald G. Lesniak, 60, on trial in September in West Chicago for allegedly sexually molesting a child, said that it was legally impossible for him to have committed that particular crime because brain surgery 30 years ago left him with no sex drive and that his wife would testify to that. (2) And in New York City in September, a state Supreme Court justice ruled that a criminal conviction could not be overturned merely because a juror was tipsy during deliberations (the result of sipping from a 16-ounce water bottle that was half-vodka). (The juror was reported by his colleagues as "overly effusive," "scatterbrained," and "inappropriately forthcoming with opinions and directions," but the justice pointed out that New York has no law against a juror's drinking.)

Government in Action

-- When Montana State University-Bozeman student Jesse Huffman, 19, emerged from answering a brutal nature's call in the men's room at the Port of Sweet Grass on the U.S. side of the Canadian border in August, officers noticed that the toilet was clogged. Although Huffman said he had a medical problem and offered to try to fix the toilet, officers took Huffman into custody for "criminal mischief." Incredulous, Huffman was detained for six hours before being released pending a court date, but a few days later, a prosecutor dropped the case.

-- According to an August Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal report, a huge oak tree on Cypress Street in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., marks the spot of a major open drug and prostitution market that is the scene of several dozen arrests every month. The sheriff's office, weary of the constant parade of crimes and arrests and pressured by a community activist, recently told county officials that it had arrived at a solution: It asked permission to cut down the tree.

-- Twice in August, wounded suspects who had been detained by police but who needed hospitalization had their arrests delayed solely because the respective governments, in Vermont and Virginia, tried to avoid getting stuck with the men's hospital bills. In each case, police intended to formally arrest the suspect only after he got well, but in both cases, the suspects fled the hospital in wheelchairs before the police sent guards to their rooms. (Vermont burglary suspect William Stone, 39, rolled out with two broken legs, and attempted-murder suspect Obryan Cecil Braxton, 25, paralyzed from the neck down in a shootout, fled a hospital in Williamsburg, Va. Both were recaptured, and Stone was charged additionally with wheelchair theft.)

Great Art!

The 223-page novel "The Train From Nowhere," by a French writer using the name Michel Thaler, is reported to be the first novel in history with no verbs, and its May publication was met with damning reviews. "Thaler" has called the verb "like a weed in a field of flowers" and his book a "revolution in the history of literature," that it "is to literature what the great Dada and Surrealist movements were to art." Critics noted the book's lack of action, in that it consists only of, according to London's Daily Telegraph, "lengthy passages filled with florid adjectives in a series of vitriolic portraits of dislikable passengers on a train."

Inexplicable

A Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa) columnist reported in September on a man who recently drove into his housing community at 10:30 p.m. to discover about 500 14-inch-high, ceramic-faced Ronald McDonald dolls neatly lined up in the middle of six streets, two to three feet apart, with no witnesses or explanation as to how they got there or why. The columnist, Bill Wundram, discovered only that the dolls were probably taken from the warehouse of a promotions company in nearby Camanche, Iowa, but is still stumped as to motive.

Least Competent Criminals

A 28-year-old robbery convict with a history of escape attempts tried to tunnel his way to freedom at the prison in Coimbra, Portugal, in June but was intercepted by officials after excavating about 6 feet. He still had 70 feet of tunnel to dig just to clear the building he was housed in, but a larger problem was that the man was apparently direction-challenged: His tunnel was pointed not toward the prison perimeter next to the building but toward a patio well inside the walls.

Update

In 2002, Boston surgeon (and Harvard Medical School graduate) David Arndt, 43, made News of the Weird when his license was suspended for leaving a patient in the middle of an operation in order to run out to cash a check, and shortly after that he was arrested on drug possession and underage-sex charges, which are still pending. He was arrested again in 2003 when he allegedly received a pink, phallus-shaped Mexican pinata filled with an estimated $100,000 worth of crystal methamphetamine. In August 2004, a federal magistrate once again denied him bail on that charge, and anyway, he would have had trouble making bail since his parents, who put their house on the line to bail him out earlier, said they would no longer help him.

Readers' Choice

Stephen P. Linnen, 33, who was a lawyer for the Ohio House Republican state legislators' caucus, was sentenced in September to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to 53 misdemeanors, including 40 times springing out from hiding places while naked and photographing the faces of women reacting to the surprise (and also for fondling 13 of them). However, the judge refused to label Linnen a "sexual offender" and said he poses "absolutely no risk to public safety."

Almost All True

Three of these four things really happened, just recently. Are you cynical enough to figure out the made-up story? (a) A zoo in Alaska announced it will build a special treadmill for its overweight elephant to exercise on. (b) A couple rented out a pornography store in Mannheim, Germany, for their wedding, since they had first met at the store when she rang up his purchases as a cashier. (c) Surveillance cameras at a London animal shelter revealed that one dog was using his teeth to unlock his cage and those of his pals so they could roam the premises night after night. (d) Owners of buildings across the street from Chicago's Wrigley Field earned more than $15 million this season charging people to watch Cubs' games from their roofs.

Answer to Almost All True: (b) is not true, as far as I know.

(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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