News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication



A documentary, "The Indigo Revolution," debuts in January, with World Indigo Weekend scheduled for Jan. 27 to Jan. 29, touting "special," high-energy kids regarded by their doting parents as psychic and endowed with an identifying, indigo-colored aura. Indigos are said to act imperially and to be astutely rebellious at authority (though cynics say they're just routinely self-centered brats, the product of excessive parental coddling). One Indigo parent told the Orange County (Calif.) Register in November that the numerous instances of her own child's prescience led her to offer her services as a facilitator to other Indigo parents (at up to $400 for workshops). Indigos "have a temper," she acknowledged, but not an ordinary temper. "(It) seems geared toward philosophical and existential issues."

Science on the Cutting Edge

-- The latest technologies and sophisticated biomechanical gaugings are being used to design brassieres to liberate women from the discomfort of which most complain (and especially buxom women, since a D-cup bra normally carries breasts weighing from 15 to 23 pounds). Leading work (according to a November Wall Street Journal report) is being done in China by engineers for Top Form Inc. (suppliers to Victoria's Secret, Playtex and Maidenform) and by biomechanist Deirdre McGhee at the University of Wollongong in Australia. A British professor, David Morris, teaches "bra studies" at De Montfort University in Leicester, and Hong Kong's Polytechnic University recently created a degree program in bra studies.

-- Still More Breast News: The Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, Netherlands, announced recently that retail studies student Wendy Rameckers had designed a wall with rows of silicon breasts in various shapes, primarily, she said, to help male shoppers decide what size bra to buy for their women. And prominent British futurist Ian Pearson of BT Laboratories told reporters in October that he could see the day when breast implants housed MP3 players (sending signals to a woman's headphones), to give the implants some actual functionality.

-- Where the Best Surgeons Are: The increased expectations of fans have driven today's bullfighters to use riskier moves than their predecessors did, and competition has pressured them to return to work quickly after being gored. As a result, according to a November Wall Street Journal dispatch from Madrid, up to three dozen elite surgeons, highly skilled in complicated procedures, follow the bullfight circuit, on call to repair serious injuries that formerly would kill or maim a matador. In fact, most bullfighters today have already endured several critical gorings but remain eager to work.

Leading Economic Indicators

-- The gigantic hit TV series "Frasier" grossed $1.5 billion during its 11-year run, but according to the show's executives (responding to a recent lawsuit by the program's creators for a greater share of the "profits"), the traditional Hollywood accounting methods reveal that the show earned no profit over its lifetime but actually lost $200 million.

-- According to a 2004 study by Georgia State University researchers, based on public information, one "investor group" substantially outperforms not only the stock market as a whole but also financial houses' top stock-pickers. That investor group is U.S. senators, who somehow between 1993 and 1998 beat the market by an average of 12 percent annually (whereas fund managers are regarded as "stars" if they beat the market by as little as 3 percent). The findings received heightened attention recently, following revelations that a prominent senator this year made a huge profit selling stock from his blind trust at just the right time.

Awesome Animals

-- (1) Wasps (Research by a Department of Agriculture scientist and a University of Georgia professor, reported in December, showed that with five minutes' training, certain wasps can detect drugs, bombs and dead bodies as well as dogs can). (2) A parrot (The wife of Frank Ficker of Freiberg, Germany, filing for divorce, said in November that she learned of her husband's infidelity when her parrot, Hugo, imitating Frank's voice, continually cried out for some woman named "Uta.")

-- Animals Being Animals: (1) The Harbor Commission of Newport Harbor, Calif., met in emergency session in September after news that 18 200- to 800-pound sea lions had jumped onto a 37-foot sailboat and sunk it. (Elsewhere on the coast, sea lions eat boogie boards, vomit on docks and bark cacophonously, and efforts to disperse them are ineffective because they are protected by a 1972 federal law.) (2) In September, an exceptionally rare American veery (a thrush-like songbird) landed in Britain's Shetland Islands and briefly excited the country's birdwatchers, but just as word was circulating, according to Scotland's Daily Record, a local cat ate it.

-- Readers' Choice: In November in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, as the staff of the television company Endemol NV were working to set up 4 million dominoes in an attempt at a new Guinness Book record, a sparrow flew in through a window, landed on the formation, and toppled about 23,000 of them before built-in gaps stopped the collapse. (An exterminator with an air rifle tracked the bird down in the building and killed it, to the outrage of animal rights advocates.)

Fetishes on Parade

(1) Large Rubber Exercise Balls (Christopher Bjerkness, 27, pleaded guilty in August in Duluth, Minn., to slashing almost 100 exercise balls at fitness centers because of what he told police was a sexual urge). (2) Dryer Lint (A separate collection of it was found among the 3,000 items of women's underwear stolen by Mr. Sung Koo Kam, 31, who was sentenced in November to more than four years in prison upon conviction in McMinnville, Ore.).

Least Competent Criminals

Incomplete Thinking: Michael Drennon, 26, was charged with bank robbery in Bensalem, Pa., in October after accidentally dropping his pay stub at the scene, even though he had cleverly blotted out his name and address with a black indelible marker. (Bensalem's director of public safety said the stub was easy to read: "We just (held) it under a light.") (2) Louis Jasick, 34, and a friend, involved in a scavenger hunt, knocked on the back door of the police station in Fruitport Township, Mich., in November to ask if officers would please help with the next item on their list and pose for a photograph of a cop eating a doughnut. The officers obliged but one of them recognized Jasick from a recent felony warrant and arrested him.

Recurring Themes

Child Support Follies: News of the Weird has reported several times about hard-luck men who, believing they are biological fathers, agree to child support, only to learn via a DNA test that they are not, but whom judges will not let rescind those agreements. An even more ironic case emerged from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in December. A man had originally agreed to support his new wife's daughter, but then he and his wife divorced, and the court ruled he must continue to support the girl even though the wife has now married the man who is the girl's biological father.

Human Missiles

David Smith Sr., who holds the world record for the longest flight of being shot from a cannon, was blasted about 150 feet in August from Tijuana, Mexico, into California, uninjured, as part of an art project about "dissolving borders." (He showed his passport before blast-off.) However, a November 2002 catapult shot of a 19-year-old Oxford University (England) biochemistry student (who was a member of Oxford's extreme sports club) ended badly, as an inquest in October 2005 heard; he was propelled almost 100 yards, which was just short of his landing net.

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