In September, the headmistress of the Dvergsnes primary school in Kristiansand, Norway, proposed that boys be taught to urinate while seated, in order to reduce splashing and mis-targeting, which burden the cleaning staff, but many parents and politicians reacted bitterly. Said Vidar Kleppe of the Justice and Order party, "It's a human right (for a boy) not to have to sit down like a girl," adding that the school was "fiddling with God's work." Parent Nancy Bakke was proud of her 7-year-old boy's ability to aim: "This rule goes against everything I've tried to teach my son."
Can't Possibly Be True
-- Youth cheerleading coach Christine Smith was dismissed in September by the Frederick (Md.) Youth Sports Association for a sideline gesture she said was to re-energize her 7- and 8-year-old girls when their football team fell behind. Smith drew a smiley face on her stomach, which she said they found "hilarious," but allegedly three people complained of the unseemliness of Smith's lifting her shirt slightly, to draw the face. Said association president Kathy Carey, "(P)ulling your shirt up is ... not what our organization is about."
-- Akira Haraguchi, 60, spent 16 straight hours on Oct. 4 reciting the value of pi from memory to 100,000 decimal places, breaking his old record of 83,431. Haraguchi, whose day job is psychiatric counselor, performed in front of officials at a public hall in Kisarazu, Japan, and rattled off the numbers continuously except for a five-minute break every hour. (In 2002, two University of Tokyo mathematicians, using a supercomputer, calculated pi to 1.24 trillion decimal places.)
-- Civilization in Decline: (1) In October, Britain's public health minister said she had been warned by counselors that some pregnant teenagers were purposely smoking in order to make their babies smaller so that childbirth would be less painful. (2) Australia's Herald Sun reported in September that a Target store in Melbourne was selling padded "bralettes" from the child clothing and doll manufacturer Bratz Babyz, aimed at children aged 6 to 10.
-- Government air-travel rules against carry-on knives, guns, cigarette lighters and other potential weapons should be very well known by now, five years after Sept. 11, but airports continue to report almost comically widespread ignorance (or forgetfulness) by travelers. The Boston Globe reported in September that screeners at Logan International Airport confiscated about 12,000 items a week before the August 2006 restrictions drove more travelers to check their bags. Every few weeks, Logan officials take about a ton of confiscated items to a warehouse in Concord, N.H., where bargain-hunters buy them for pennies on the dollar.
-- In August, about a dozen masked men lugged six 40-gallon trash bags full of sauce packets into the Taco Bell on South Western Avenue in Marion, Ind., leaving a note explaining that they had been accumulating them for a while and decided to give them back. They suspected they had 25,000 packets. (Taco Bell said it hands out about 6 billion a year.)
The Joys of a Small Town
Lorenzo Martin, 34, was charged with domestic violence in September, accused of holding his estranged wife's leg in a bed of fire ants, resulting in more than 100 bites (Cottonwood, Ala.). And Mary Kay Gray, 58, was charged in September with shooting her husband in the shoulder in retaliation for the husband's allegedly having shot and killed Mary's favorite chicken (Cheshire, Ore.). And spiritual counselor Nickie Marks said he was contemplating a lawsuit in September after the town of Greensboro, Ga., confiscated the half-ton statue of Jesus from his front yard (based on a zoning ordinance banning wordless signs, originally intended to keep business owners from welding cars to the tops of poles).
-- Adult video star Mary Carey, once again running for governor of California, said she is a new person from the woman who was an also-ran in 2003: "I've got brown in my hair (instead of the 2003 blond) because brunettes are taken more seriously." She said she also has lost weight, replaced her teeth, gotten breast implants, and given up smoking, contraceptives and alcohol. "I've actually been sober for five days now," she said on Aug. 9.
-- (1) West Virginia state senator Randy White decided in October to remain in the race for re-election despite the surfacing of photographs taken two years earlier, of White nude except for body paint, in a group of similarly decorated men. White said he had had a "personal identification situation." (2) After a reporter for the Rochester (Minn.) Post-Bulletin noticed similarities in expression between mayoral candidate Pat Carr and an pseudonymous supporter who posted message after message of praise of Carr on the newspaper's web site, Carr admitted that the "supporter" was actually he, himself. Said Carr, "I stand by what I (wrote)."
Least Competent Criminals
-- Audacious: (1) A 37-year-old man was charged with burglary in Waterbury, Conn., in September after he was caught selling the victim's distinctive furnishings at a yard sale just a few doors down the street. (2) Christopher Bordne, 17, was arrested in September in Newton, Mass., after a police officer, waiting behind Bordne at a traffic light at 1:40 a.m. through several light changes, checked to find Bordne with his foot on the brake but otherwise sound asleep. After yelling at Bordne and rapping repeatedly on the window with his flashlight, the officer watched as Bordne woke up, drove off and crashed into a tree.
-- Two unnamed Egyptian men in their 20s, in Russia on tourist visas, illegally crossed the border to Belarus and then headed to Poland, which, as a European Union country, is harder to enter. According to an August report from BBC News' Moscow bureau, the pair dug a hole under the border (using shoehorns), and once in Poland, intended to enter Germany the same way, but they had gotten turned around during the dig and instead of Germany, they mistakenly tunneled back into Belarus, where they were captured. They were sent back to Moscow but later were trying to leave the country again when Russian guards at the Ukraine border took them into custody.
Two News of the Weird old-timers made the news recently: H. Beatty Chadwick, jailed for contempt of court in 1995 for failure to hand over assets to his ex-wife after their divorce (because he claims not to have control of them), has now passed Day 4,100 in a county lock-up outside Philadelphia, according to an ABC News report. And Massachusetts inmate Michelle Kosilek, who was Robert Kosilek when he went to prison, is now awaiting a federal court decision on whether the prison system must fund the final-step surgery in his gender switch. Kosilek says being trapped in a man's body is agonizing: "The greatest loss is the dying I do inside a little bit every day." (Kosilek's wife, though, did all her dying at once, when Robert murdered her in 1990.)
Sounds Like a Joke
(1) In September, a youth sports association raffle in Weaverville, N.C., offered an Uzi submachine gun as a prize for a while, until the association responded to complaints and stopped it. (2) Underachieving former St. Thomas Law School (Miami) student Thomas Bentey filed a federal class action lawsuit against the school in August, alleging that it knew when it accepted him that he couldn't muster the necessary 2.5 grade-point average to stay in school (and thus defrauded him, and dozens of his classmates of similar talent).
(Visit Chuck Shepherd daily at http://NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com or www.NewsoftheWeird.com. Send your Weird News to WeirdNewsTips@yahoo.com or P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600