-- Harold Camping, the host of a moderately prominent international Christian radio call-in show, recently told his listeners that Satan has taken over "all" churches and that people of faith should do their worshipping elsewhere. Apparently, pastors all over the United States are outraged, with some attributing drops in attendance (and contributions) to Camping, whose Oakland, Calif.-based organization reported donations of $12 million in 2000.
-- Among the rap lyrics penned by condemned murderer John Taylor, 38 (convicted of killing five New York City Wendy's employees in a 2000 robbery), during his two days on the lam before his arrest (and revealed by prosecutors in January) (Taylor's spelling): "so now you know how I go / They got my face on the worlds most wanted show / on chanel five showing live / you'll think I'm famous / I'm airing world wide / I'm a stick up kid so swift you see / in and out like 1 2 3 / I said give me the doe you say no, no? / Is it no you said stick some lead to your head / guess what punk now your dead / with all that blood bursting out your Head." Taylor now says he's sorry for the killings.
If it hadn't been for the metal detector at the Regina, Saskatchewan, airport, the woman might still wonder why her stomach pains, following June 2002 surgery, were persisting. When the detector relentlessly beeped but no metal could be found on her, she scheduled an X-ray and discovered that a 12-inch-long surgical retractor had been left inside. (A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January estimated that 1,500 items were left inside surgery patients in 2001.)
Matthew and Elaine Sweetapple recently invented a "game of skill, power, speed and endurance," consisting of a biodegradable ball (smaller than a golf ball) placed in a urinal, to be disintegrated by a urinator (either alone or in "competition"). The product, Peeball, was launched for sale (equivalent of $1.70) late in 2002 by Great Britain's Prostate Cancer Charity, which hopes the novelty will call attention to its cause, in that players with prostate problems are typically poor at the game. Player strategies, basically, are (1) direct stream and (2) intermittent stream.
-- Two British zoologists and a psychologist started a business consulting firm in November to teach executives to handle risk based on lessons from animal behavior. Founders Alex Kacelnik and Sir John Krebs (University of Oxford) said it was their work with starlings and crows that told them that animals, including humans, approach risk in similar ways (e.g., a petroleum company exploring for oil is similar to a bird foraging for food).
-- In December, the British subsidiary of the German firm Condomi selected 10 men from among 10,000 college students across Great Britain to be condom testers, paying them a rate of about $170 per term to test for comfort and convenience, with unlimited supplies (of condoms, not partners). Newcastle University law student Dave Chapman, one of the 10, told a reporter in December that he thinks the assignment is "to get through as many as humanly possible."
-- Two University of Virginia neurologists told a professional conference in December that an egg-sized brain tumor in the orbifrontal cortex region was likely the only explanation why a 40-year-old, appropriately behaving man suddenly became a pedophile, frequently seeking pornography and making subtle advances to children. After surgery to remove the tumor, the inappropriate urges disappeared for months, but when the urges returned, doctors found that so had the tumor.
-- Researchers at the Jichi medical school in Tochigi, Japan, told New Scientist magazine in December that they had successfully removed the heads of infant rats, held onto them for 90 minutes, and replanted them onto the blood supply of the thighs of adult rats, with the brains continuing to develop for about three more weeks (e.g., mouths began to move, as if expecting milk). The researchers say their work is an "excellent model" for brain function in human babies.
Robert Covey, 21, said he found a bullet at around 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 and decided it would be cool to put it on the ground and shoot at it with his BB gun. He hit it on the third shot, causing the bullet to explode, sending fragments into his right forearm and left middle finger. He was treated at a Hot Springs, Ark., hospital and released.
More People a Little Too Chummy With Animals: In November 2002, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts rejected a lawsuit by Robert and Anne Krasnecky of Ware, Mass., for "loss of companionship" of their seven pet sheep, which were killed by a neighbor's dog. The court said "companionship" in the law referred only to humans, even though the Krasneckys considered the sheep their "babies," spent six or seven hours a day with them, gave them names, celebrated their birthdays with special food and balloons, baked snacks for them, bottle-fed them, and allowed them the run of their house.
In January, a 72-year-old woman was found dead in her Washington, D.C., apartment the day after a police officer had searched the apartment and failed to notice the woman's leg sticking out from underneath a bed. (Two months earlier, D.C. paramedics had bagged the apparently dead body of a 49-year-old woman, but later, three morgue employees said they detected a slight pulse; however, she died for real a few minutes later.) On another matter, The Washington Post reported in October that the District's payroll office, having already spent $20 million on a new computer system that never worked, had just spent another $14 million to transfer all the records back to the old, antiquated system, which led the Post to speculate that the squandered $34 million is probably more than the entire D.C. jail population combined had ever stolen.
A cockfight handler, about to release his rooster into the ring to do battle, with both birds outfitted with razor-sharp steel spikes on their legs, was killed when the rooster slashed the man's thigh and groin, causing him to bleed to death (Zamboanga, Philippines, January). And a 43-year-old man died of a gunshot wound shortly after telling his wife he was going to use his rifle to club to death the couple's Chinese shar-pei dog because it had bitten him; with no other explanation apparent, police suspect that the rifle accidentally discharged during the clubbing (Winchester, Va., January).
Joseph Anthony Giannini, 53, who was well-known among neighbors and co-workers as a gung-ho, "war story"-telling retired Washington, D.C., police officer, died of a mysterious gunshot wound on Dec. 31 as he warmed up his truck. The Washington Post reported that Giannini had equipped his truck cab with squad car paraphernalia (siren, flashing lights, ticket books, etc.); held many police badges, ID cards and police academy diplomas; and was a proud member of the local Fraternal Order of Police (which is restricted to officers and former officers). However, D.C. police had no record of Giannini's having served with them, and the Post reporter said "most" of the badges and diplomas "appeared to be falsified" (and in fact, Giannini was once arrested for impersonating a police officer).
Goalkeeper Richard Siddall stayed on the field for 10 minutes after everyone else had left because the fog that caused the soccer game's cancellation was so thick that he didn't see the players leave (Sheffield, England). Toki Holden, 38, was arrested and her day-care center closed when state investigators accused her of giving a crying 5-month-old boy a bottle spiked with Ny-Quil (Durham, N.C.). Paul and Hannelore Richter said they have been keeping a pet eel in their family bathtub for 33 years (transferred to a bucket when the tub is otherwise in use), first because their kids begged them to and later because the Richters feared it could no longer survive in the wild (Bochum, Germany).
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or WeirdNews@earthlink.net or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com.)