As an alternative to burial, cremation is no longer green enough, say environmentalists, because it releases smoke and mercury, and thus the industry is considering "promession," in which the body is frozen in liquid nitrogen to minus-320 degrees (F) and then shaken until it disintegrates into powder. For green burials, the United States has at least six cemeteries that require biodegradable casings and for bodies to be free of embalming chemicals. The Forever Fernwood cemetery in Mill Valley, Calif., goes even further, according to an October Los Angeles Times story, banning grave markers, but, said the owner, "We issue the family a Google map with the GPS coordinates" so they can find their loved one.
(1) The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in October that attorney Michael Inglimo did not violate a state regulation that bars a lawyer from having sex "with a current client": Inglimo had sex with a client's girlfriend during a three-way session, but according to the judges, the regulation bans only direct sex with the client. (However, the court suspended Inglimo's license based on other grounds.) (2) Philadelphia Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni outraged women's activists and the local bar association in October when she dismissed rape charges against four men who had sex with a prostitute at gunpoint. Because the woman had initially agreed to a business proposition, said the judge, the men should properly be charged with "armed robbery" for "theft of services." Said Deni, "She consented, and she didn't get paid."
-- (1) A price war broke out in November among chain stores in Britain, with Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda vying for the cheap-drunk customers, and at press time, Asda was leading by offering a low-end lager in multipacks for the equivalent of 46 cents a pint, which is less than colas or bottled water. (2) For those Britons who drink in pubs but miss the atmosphere as it was before smoking bans (for example, who may be disoriented by "new" smells that are no longer masked by cigarette smoke), the company Dale Air has introduced, in aerosol cans, a fragrance that it says mimics the musty, ashtray-based scent so familiar to veteran pub-goers.
-- Bahadur Chand Gupta bought an old Airbus 300 and now offers weekly sessions in Delhi in which any of the 1 billion Indians who have never flown before can sit on a genuine (though disabled) airliner, listen to pilot announcements ("We are about to begin our descent into Delhi"), and be served by flight attendants. Said one customer (who paid the equivalent of about $4), "I see planes passing all day long over my roof. I had to try out the experience."
-- Babies Out of Order: (1) Amelia Spence, 29, gave birth in Glasgow, Scotland, in October to two babies, one just minutes before the other, but they were not twins. The apparently super-fertile Spence, though on contraceptive pills, conceived twice in a three-week period with eggs from successive monthly cycles ("superfetation"). (2) In Cary, N.C., a woman gave birth to twins early in the morning of Nov. 4, one at 1:32 a.m. and the other 34 minutes later, at 1:06 a.m. (after Daylight-Saving Time ended).
-- The prominent Rotterdam Natural History Museum in the Netherlands, which houses over 300,000 species, announced in October that it was missing a particular one that it fears is dying out: crab lice (pubic hair lice). In a June science journal article, researchers had hypothesized that the "Brazilian bikini wax" was in part responsible for the scarcity; said the museum's curator, "Pubic lice can't live without pubic hair."
-- Doctors at Mackay Base Hospital in Australia saved the life of a 24-year-old Italian tourist in August after he had ingested a large amount of poisonous ethylene glycol (found in antifreeze), perhaps in an attempted suicide. The antidote, pharmaceutical-grade alcohol, was in short supply at the hospital, but doctors improvised by setting up a gastric drip and feeding him vodka at the rate of three standard drinks an hour for three days. He made a full recovery, according to an October report in Melbourne's The Age.
-- University of Maastricht (Netherlands) researcher David Levy told the Web site LiveScience.com in October that he believes robots will be so highly developed by the middle of this century that a few people will even begin to marry them: "Once you have a story like, 'I had sex with a robot, and it was great!' appear someplace like Cosmo(politan) magazine, I'd expect many people to jump on the bandwagon." (Georgia Tech researcher Ronald Arkin added that perhaps robotic children could be used to satisfy pedophiles enough to keep them away from human children.)
-- Pennsylvania Superior Court judge Michael Thomas Joyce, 58, was indicted in August for fraud in connection with $440,000 he received after his car was nudged (at 5 mph) in a 2001 accident. Joyce claimed that he was in such neck and back pain as to be prevented from certain activities such as holding a coffee cup, but prosecutors said he not only played golf frequently after that but went scuba diving, renewed his scuba instructor's license, went inline skating, and went through private pilot training and licensing (50 flights).
-- In testimony at his divorce hearing (according to transcripts obtained by KUSA-TV), federal judge Edward Nottingham admitted that he had visited strip clubs in Denver, and on two consecutive nights had run up tabs of over $3,000, but that he didn't know what else happened those nights because he was too drunk. Judge Nottingham's behavior was not courtroom-related, but the charge against Cincinnati Municipal Court judge Ted Berry in July was. Berry had just sentenced Ivan Boykins to 30 days in jail, provoking Boykins to shout, "F--- you," which prompted a return "F--- you" from Judge Berry. (The bar association's response has not been reported.)
In November, Britain's new weather-themed Cool Cash lottery game was canceled after one day because too many players failed to understand the rules. Each card had a visible temperature and a temperature to be scratched off, and the purchaser would win if the scratched-off temperature was "lower" than the visible one. Officials said they had received "dozens" of complaints from players who could not understand why, for example, minus-5 is not a lower temperature than minus-6.
(1) Once again, someone found a suspected live explosive on his property, put it in his car, and took it to the local police station (this time, a hand grenade, in Devon, England, in November). (For the record, emergency personnel would rather be told about an explosive than have it brought into their building.) (2) Once again, a motorist casually traveling on a highway had his vehicle crushed by an airborne cow (this time, near Manson, Wash., in November). The 600-pound cow had fallen off a cliff, totaling the minivan but not injuring the driver, who was quoted in an Associated Press dispatch saying repeatedly, "I don't believe this."
(1) The Catholic archbishop overseeing a convent near Bari, Italy, closed it down in August after the mother superior was attacked and beaten by her two nuns, who were angry at her authoritarian ways. (2) Ex-parishioner Angel Llavano, who had left a phone message for Father Luis Alfredo Rios criticizing one of his homilies, filed a defamation of character lawsuit in September after Father Rios retaliated by denouncing him in front of the Crystal Lake, Ill., congregation. Asked Rios (perhaps rhetorically), "Should we send (Llavano) to hell or to another parish?"
(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.)