-- According to London's Daily Telegraph, U.K.-funded research revealed in January indicates that within 10 years, countries could require car manufacturers to install $300 electronic governors that would use satellite technology to control the maximum speed that cars could travel, varying it depending on amount of traffic, highway design and driving conditions.
Convicted murderer William "Cody" Neal, at his sentencing hearing in Golden, Colo., in September: "I (accept) responsibility for the (murder). If I lose my life, I can live with that." And an unnamed woman, when police in Appleton, Wis., came in December to remove her children because of a complaint that she had given her 11-year-old daughter a "swirlie" (holding her head in
a flushing toilet): "I haven't had a vacation in 13 years. Go ahead and take them."
-- At a meeting of African leaders in Tripoli in September, Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy unveiled a prototype of the car of the future that he said he had personally engineered in his spare time: the low-slung, five-passenger "Rocket of the Jamahiriya," featuring bottle-shaped front and rear ends to deflect collisions and make it the world's safest car. Libya would produce 50,000 cars a year priced in the "upper-middle-class" range.
-- A private company, leasing land rights from the Israeli government, plans to build a $6.6 million entertainment complex in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee to include an 80-yard-long platform just below the water's surface to allow visitors to re-create Christ's walk on water (at $5 a head). However, according to a December Austin American-Statesman report, Roman Catholic priest and Holy Land scholar Jerome Murphy-O'Connor predicted the walkway would be used only by "drunk tourists, not serious pilgrims."
-- A September Deutsch Presse-Agentur report profiled Mr. Rainer Thoenes, 33, from the German village of Kalkar, who earns a nice living as a hairdresser for cows being readied for cattle shows. "The trick," said Thoenes, "is to highlight the cow's strong points (straight back, slim legs, plump udders) and hide the weak ones," but Thoenes's professional standards prevent him from supplying artificial parts such as more attractive tails.
-- In a December profile, the Village Voice touted the hand-carved potato dildoes of California artist Pommela de Terre, who said spuds are more sensual than carrots or cucumbers, than clay or Play-Doh, or than candles or commercial dildoes. De Terre adds lemon juice to prevent color change and olive oil for flexibility and said she's never had a potato break during use.
-- A November Associated Press report on Jacksonville, Fla., stabbing victim Michael Hill, 44, showed him progressing slowly after the April 1998 incident in which a neighbor mistakenly jammed an 8-inch, serrated blade all the way into the top of his skull. Doctors pulled it out without major damage, and Hill now takes pain and seizure medication and still has trouble with emotions and short-term memory. Hill's sister, at whose house Hill was staying when stabbed, believes the attack was intended for her husband.
-- A Palm Bay, Fla., engineer renewed his call in September for testing his theory that bombarding developing hurricanes with nuclear weapons would disrupt their circular wind flow and cause them to dissipate, saving lives and curbing property damage. Henry Payne first made the claim in 1997, but a federal weather official said too many bombs would be needed, resulting in serious nuclear fallout even if the bombardment took place far from land.
-- Recent Addictions: Daisy Hales pled guilty in Haymarket, South Yorkshire, England, in September to stealing books to feed her habit of eating paper. And researchers told a conference in Los Angeles in October that more men than women suffer from "body dysmorphic disorder" -- people who imagine themselves horribly ugly and deal with it by radical plastic surgery and peculiar disguises. And Canada's National Post reported in October on polydipsia ("self-induced water intoxication"), which causes addicts to guzzle water to the point of getting high (at which point it becomes life-threatening), including some who furtively drink from toilet tanks.
Subtenants Stuart and Susan Levy were at last fined $8,000 in December by a New York appeals court, but not before they had refused to move from their rented Manhattan apartment for 11 years after being given their 30-day notice to vacate by the tenant, who said in March 1985 that she needed to move back in. Because of the Levys' delay tactics, it took seven years for the principal tenant even to get a formal ruling that the Levys had to move. After that, the Levys stalled for four more years by claiming that the principal tenant should pay all of their legal fees for the 11-year battle.
Just before hurricane season in 1998, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told his "700 Club" TV audience that the city of Orlando, Fla., should not have sponsored that year's "Gay Days" festival, that touting homosexuality would cause God to visit hurricanes and tornadoes upon the city. (In fact, 1998's first hurricane hit Robertson's headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va.) In November 1999, the supreme Islamic leader in Afghanistan said that if Americans did not "cease hostility against the Taliban," the United States would suffer earthquakes and storms, and in fact took credit for September's Hurricane Floyd.
In unrelated incidents, Jesus Gutierrez, 17, was arrested in Springfield, Ore., in October, and Lawrence Eaddy was arrested in Charlotte, N.C., in July, both charged with carjackings rendered unsuccessful because the perpetrators realized too late that they couldn't drive cars with stick shifts. And the man who robbed the First American Bank in Columbia, Tenn., in December managed enough luck to escape; his getaway plans had been set back when he ran out to the stolen car he had left idling, only to discover that he had locked the key inside.
A Canadian judge denied a work permit to an "unqualified" immigrant stripper, saying she had worked only topless in Romania while the Canadian job required full nudity. A 792-square-foot home on a 2,800-square-foot lot in Palo Alto, Calif., went on the market for $409,000 and was expected to be bid upward. Britain's nuclear agency said a Christmas kids' exhibit built by Dounreay nuclear power employees was safe despite its consisting of containers that once held radioactive waste. A 1-year-old girl, idly punching numbers on a telephone key pad, hit 911, bringing police to her home, where her father was hiding out on a parole violation (Winnipeg, Manitoba). A 20-year-old man, picked up on a bad-check charge, was re-arrested, for swiping a squad-car door knob as a "souvenir" (Crossville, Tenn.)
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 8306, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33738, or Weird@compuserve.com. Chuck Shepherd's latest paperback, "The Concrete Enema and Other News of the Weird Classics," is now available at bookstores everywhere. To order it direct, call 1-800-642-6480 and mention this newspaper. The price is $6.95 plus $2 shipping.)