Jennalee Ryan of San Antonio last year began selling choice human embryos, ready for prospective mothers to implant after having chosen from Ryan's catalog describing the contributors' education, attractiveness and medical history. "We're just trying to help people have babies," she told The Washington Post in January, and at less cost than full in-vitro procedures (since she has eliminated the risk of failed fertilizations). But, said a bioethicist, "It's like you're ordering a computer from Dell." (Ryan said she does not take custom orders.) Of her emphasis on well-educated, good-looking contributors of sperm and eggs, she said, "Who wants an ugly, stupid kid?"
-- We License Fishing, But We Can't License Parenting? (1) Shawn Mohan, 20, was arrested in January for shooting his infant son several times with a BB gun. Mohan said it was an accident, but the St. Charles County, Mo., sheriff pointed to similar bruises on the baby's face, left arm, hand, foot, hip and buttocks, and said Mohan was on probation for an earlier child-endangerment conviction. (2) Samaritans stopped on Interstate 465 in Indianapolis in December to help a wandering 3-year-old boy wearing only a diaper and T-shirt. Police tracked down his mother, Nancy Dyer, in her filthy apartment, where her 2-year-old daughter was eating spaghetti off the floor. Dyer's first reaction to news about her son: "Oh, he got out again."
-- For two months late last year after a pair of convicted murderers escaped from Sudbury prison in England, the local Derbyshire police refused to release their pictures. According to the police, "Photographs of named people that are in police possession are classed as data, and their release is restricted by law" to instances where there is a "proper policing purpose." Derbyshire authorities said that since the escapees had probably left the area, there was no such purpose, and the photographs should be kept confidential.
After Emmalee Bauer, 25, was fired by the Sheraton hotel company in late 2006, she sought unemployment compensation from the Iowa agency that offers benefits to employees terminated through no fault of their own. However, the judge noted that Bauer had written a 300-page journal, during office hours, chronicling her efforts to avoid work. Among her entries: "This typing thing seems to be doing the trick. It just looks like I am hard at work on something very important," and, "Once lunch is over, I will come right back to writing to piddle away the rest of the afternoon," and, "Accomplishment is overrated, anyway." (Her claim was denied.)
The school system in Hagerstown, Md., issued a written reprimand in December to the parents of a 5-year-old kindergarten boy who had pinched a classmate's buttocks, terming his behavior "sexual" harassment. Said his dad: "He knows nothing about sex. There's no way to explain (to him) what he's been written up for." Also in December, the principal of a preschool in Bellmead, Texas, issued an in-school suspension to a 4-year-old boy after he hugged his female teacher's aide with his face in her chest, which was termed "sexual contact and/or sexual harassment" (though following complaints, the offense was changed to "inappropriate physical behavior").
-- Daring young men use the danger of moving cars for attention, especially if there's a video camera rolling. An 18-year-old Topeka, Kan., man became the latest "Jackass"-imitating casualty when he bailed out of a car going 35 mph in October and suffered a serious head injury. Other video performers go "ghost riding the whip" (letting their cars coast in neutral while they climb onto the roof to dance), with at least two deaths reported. In the newest craze, Jonathas Mendonca, 22, was hospitalized in critical condition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in January after "skiing" (holding onto the back of a car) on Interstate 95 at 65 mph.
-- In September, according to sheriff's officials in Buffalo, N.Y., Thomas Montgomery murdered a 22-year-old workplace colleague in a love triangle involving a West Virginia woman, except that two of the three triangle characters were nonexistent. Montgomery, age 47, was pretending to be a young Marine in online conversation with the woman, 45, who was pretending she was her 18-year-old daughter. The murder victim had also struck up an online conversation with the woman, apparently making Montgomery jealous, but the victim, ironically, was the only one in the triangle who wasn't someone else.
-- In January, a hospice in Britain run by Sister Frances Dominica approved the wish of a 22-year-old man (born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy), who wanted to lose his virginity before he died. The Douglas House hospice arranged for a prostitute to visit him at his family's home, and the man said afterward, "It was not emotionally fulfilling, but the lady was very pleasant."
The Washington Post, examining 135 cases of disability by "stress" among Washington, D.C., police officers, found only 16 that resulted from specific incidents, such as gunfire, with the rest due to "common workplace tensions" ("arguments with colleagues, shift changes, disciplinary actions" among them). According to an internal police memo, the department's generous disability benefit would be "unheard of in private industry and public service," and the department's rate of officers unable to work is, for example, several times higher than Baltimore's, according to the Post's October report.
(1) The allegedly drunk 23-year-old driver who caused a collision in Lynn, Mass., in December: Mr. Chansavong Y (whose name really is Y). (2) Convicted of attempted murder of his former girlfriend's current boyfriend in Cocoa, Fla., in December: Mr. Taj Mahal Owens. (3) The legislator seen erupting toward the speaker of Taiwan's parliament in January and throwing her shoes at him: Ms. Wang Shu-hui. (4) The man whose death in August left a vacancy on the Vidor, Texas, school board: Mr. Ivan Croak.
-- Easy Collars: (1) Nicholas Raber, 19, was arrested in Annapolis, Md., in December for punching a police officer and dashing up a flight of stairs after yelling, "You'll never catch me." The officers were aware that upstairs exits were locked and so waited patiently for Raber to come back down and be handcuffed. (2) Mitchell Sigman, 22, was arrested and charged with robbing the Village Pantry in Elkhart, Ind., in November, after the clerk-victim identified him as a regular customer and one who had recently filled out an application to work there.
-- Failures to Keep a Low Profile: (1) College student Cory Shapiro, 19, was arrested in January after he flagged down a police officer to complain that he had been overcharged for drinks at the Athens, Ga., bar Bourbon Street. (2) Sunday school teacher Edgar Selavka, 49, was arrested after he reported to police in Northampton, Mass., in January that someone had stolen his backpack from church; shortly afterward, police found the backpack in a nearby restroom, with its contents on the floor, including at least 11 child pornography photos.
Arrested recently and awaiting trial for murder: Michael Wayne Poe (Dayton, Tenn., October); Timothy Wayne Widman (Pittsburgh, Pa., September); John Wayne Peck (Beaverdam, Va., October). Murder warrants issued recently: Bradley Wayne Hamrick (Longview, Wash., September); Billy Wayne Hayes (Nashville, Tenn., December); Christopher Wayne Luttrell (Henderson, Ky., October). Ordered re-sentenced for a 2001 murder: Gary Wayne Kleypas (Topeka, Kan., December).
(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.)