News of the Weird

Week of November 21, 2004

LEAD STORY

New Scientist magazine reported in October that psychologists seem to be reclassifying people who are permanently uninterested in sex, from the old notion that such behavior was a disorder to the emerging position that it is merely a sexual preference of "none of the above." (Asexuals profess no sexual attraction at all, encompassing loners reluctant to associate with people and gregarious, caring people whose natural inclination is to relate to others nonsexually.) Recent research estimated that 1 percent of the population is asexual, and in previous research, 40 percent of asexuals described themselves as "extremely" or "very" happy. An asexuality support group (AVEN) touts its best-selling T-shirt, "Asexuality: It's not just for amoebas anymore."

People Different From Us

Jackie Lee Shrader, 49, and his son, Harley Lee, 24, had a brief shootout with .22-caliber handguns, provoked when the pair confronted each other over how to cook skinless chicken for dinner (Bluewell, W.Va., September). And Niccolo Rossodivita, 62, shot Billy Cordova, 40, twice in the chest after Cordova followed him around their house prolonging their argument over Jesus Christ's correct name (Wasilla, Alaska, September). And Angela Morris, 19, was charged with assaulting her boyfriend by pouring boiling oil on him during an argument over a Bible verse the two had been reading together (Eugene, Ore., May).

More Scenes of the Surreal

(1) According to a September Washington Post dispatch from a Culpeper, Va., conference of people obsessed with spotting the alleged, 7-foot-tall Sasquatch, which is said to be roaming the woods of America, many attendees ("East Coast Bigfoot community") seem consumed by the West Coast Bigfoot community's supposed arrogance. That is, Western witnesses seem to regard Eastern witnesses as delusional, in that Sasquatch obviously lives west of the Rockies. (2) Thomas Patrick Remo, 50, was arrested in September in Dallas and charged with practicing medicine (gynecology) without a license; Remo had a stream of female customers who apparently did not think it odd that the exams were free and that he ran his office out of a self-storage locker.

Our Litigious Society

-- Patricia Frankhouser filed a lawsuit in Jeannette, Pa., in November against the Norfolk Southern railway as a result of being hit by a train in January as she walked on railroad tracks. Frankhouser, who suffered various cuts and a broken finger, claimed in the lawsuit that Norfolk Southern should have posted signs alongside the tracks warning people not to walk on them, that trains might be coming.

-- In August, cardiologist Dr. Lawrence Poliner won $366 million in damages from a federal court jury in Dallas because his practice was virtually shut down through word of mouth for seven months in 1998, a verdict that (after subtracting 25 percent in attorney fees) would reward him with earnings during the shutdown of $39 million per month. The shutdown came after a hospital peer review panel had found errors in 29 of 44 patient-cases of Poliner (but he was reinstated after prominent cardiologists supported him, though the panel did not retract its initial finding).

-- Frederick Puglisi, 23, was awarded $850,000 by a jury in Ramsey, N.J., in September, for injuries, including a disfigured hand caused by frostbite, suffered when he got drunk at a party, set out on foot, and passed out in a snow bank. The jury determined that his injuries were worth $1 million in damages and that Puglisi was only 15 percent responsible. (Ramsey police and the Bergen county police bore greater fault because they had failed to respond quickly enough to a 911 call about a man passed out in a snow bank.)

Police Blotter

-- From the July 23, 2004, Police Reports column of the New London, Wis., Press-Star: "1:15 p.m., a juvenile approached an officer at (Hortonville Police Department) complaining about having a lock stuck around his right testicle for three days and he didn't know how to get it off." (The officer found a master key.) "Having the master key in hand, the juvenile left the room for a moment and returned with the lock. The officer spoke to the juvenile about experimenting with sexuality and how he needs to be more careful in the future."

-- When the police chief in Springdale, Pa., allegedly used the N-word while detaining two black teenagers, the boys' parents charged racism, but the chief's brother, police officer Mike Naviglia, came to his rescue. Officer Naviglia suddenly grabbed one of the boys, in front of their mother, and kissed him flush on the mouth. Said Naviglia, "Does that taste like racism?" (According to the mother, Naviglia said, "I kissed him to show him that I wasn't prejudiced." The mother was undaunted and said she would proceed with her complaint.)

Creme de la Weird

Australian sleep-disorder expert Dr. Peter Buchanan caused a stir in October when he told reporters that the odd behavior of "sleep sex" (leaving home at night in a deep sleep and seeking random sex with strangers) would soon be regarded as an official sleep disorder and be included in the next version of the sleep disorder manual. Said Buchanan, anticipating skepticism: "Incredulity is the first staging post for anyone involved in this (study)."

Least Competent Criminals

Paul Michael Callahan, 32, was arrested in Boston in August after, according to police, a short career as a bank robber, which started badly when Callahan tried to hold up the copy shop at Boston University, believing it was a bank. (The clerk asked, "Do you know you're in a copy store and all we can give you is copies?") Callahan fled but allegedly robbed a Fleet Bank branch a few minutes later (getting less than $200) and then a Citizen's Bank branch, clearing about $2,500. However, the red-dye pack from Citizen's exploded, distracting him, and then his getaway car got a flat tire, and police found him hiding in a gas station.

Update

Among the recent idiosyncratic decrees by Turkmenistan's megalomaniacal president-for-life, Saparmurat Niyazov: No publicly chewing "nas" (the country's popular drug, partly tobacco, slacked lime and chicken droppings); television show hosts cannot wear makeup (because the president said he has difficulty distinguishing heavily made-up males from females); and an ice palace will be built in the heart of the country's extremely hot desert so that children can learn to ski.

Almost All True

Three of these four things really happened, just recently. Are you cynical enough to figure out the made-up story? (a) Municipal officials in Amsterdam tentatively approved a euthanasia-drug home delivery service, provided that all orders are screened by a physician before the driver is dispatched. (b) Boston police arrested a wheelchair-confined bank robber, who had become paralyzed when shot during a previous bank robbery. (c) Police in Lagos, Nigeria, organized groups of officers into street choirs to help disperse unruly mobs by singing. (d) A British Medical Association official warned that hospitals have recently become "inundated" with serious knife and broken-bottle injuries among barroom-brawling women.

Readers' Choice

Initially, Florida artist Maria Alquilar refused to correct a series of misspelled names in a $40,000 historical mural she did for the city of Livermore, Calif., claiming that "words" were not important to her art, comparing her errors to Michelangelo's "David" (imperfect in the sense that one of the testicles is lower than the other). After receiving much hate mail from Livermore taxpayers, suggesting that she must have a learning disability for not detecting "(Albert) Eistein," "(William) Shakespere," "(Paul) Gaugan," "(Vincent) Van Gough," and seven other misspellings, Alquilar agreed to fix her mural in early 2005 (but wants an additional $6,000 for her trouble).

Answer to Almost All True: (b), (c) and (d) are true.

(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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