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News of the Weird



Lead Story

In July U.S. representative Jack Metcalf of Washington revealed that the U.S. Forest Service and a state agency had planned to spend $18,000 to dye rocks gray and brown along a scenic highway in the Cascade Mountains to make the rocks look more naturally weathered. (Later in the month, the project was postponed.)

Weird Science

The Wall Street Journal reported in May that Dutch farmers can now purchase machines that allow cows to milk themselves by approaching a robot, which is activated by a computer chip in the cow's collar, saving a typical farmer about four hours a day. Said one farmer, "The cows tend to like it."

In an April column in Toronto's Globe & Mail, Dr. Shafiq Qaadri selected memorable gastrointestinal patients from his practice and celebrated their "award-winning" problems in detail. They fell under the categories "greatest number of parasites taken from a patient," "most obscure parasite," "best vomit," and "best stool." The latter two awards were won by African men whose excretions had yielded worms about six inches long; the stool worm was pregnant with ten baby worms.

In March Gannett News Service reported that the maladies associated with "Gulf War syndrome" perhaps extended to soldiers' wives. "Scores" of wives have complained that their husbands' sperm "burns" them on discharge and causes blisters, rashes, itching, and vaginal swelling.

At a March conference a University of Pennsylvania radiologist told colleagues he'd successfully sterilized all 17 rabbits in his experiment by squirting a substance similar to super glue into their fallopian tubes. He then said he'd seek FDA approval to test his procedure on women. And in May Pacer Technologies announced it was seeking FDA and Department of Agriculture approval for using a variant of its super glue to prevent salmonella contamination by sealing the rectums of chickens and turkeys. The product would be known as Rectite.

In a March issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a 45-year-old plastic surgeon in Houston described how, when feeling dizzy from an electrical shock, he hooked himself up to the office defibrillator and gave himself two massive jolts to slow down his heart, thus saving his life.


In June Troy Harding, 19, was released from a hospital in Portland, Oregon, three weeks after he walked into the radio antenna of his car after turning around abruptly when talking to friends. The antenna went up his nose almost four inches, pierced his sinus, and entered his brain, coming to rest in his pituitary gland.

In May Edmond Scrivens, 48, an inspector at a solid-waste transfer station near Rockville, Maryland, was buried under a truckload of hospital refuse dumped by a driver who didn't see him. He communicated by radio with rescue workers, who were able to find him and dig him out about 20 minutes later.

In June police in Clearwater, Florida, were called to the apartment shared by Kenneth Anderson, 23, and Lisa Moses, who were having a domestic quarrel. As one officer counseled Moses in a bedroom, he smelled marijuana and noticed three duffel bags and three plastic bags of $20 and $50 bills on the bed. Officers found about $23,000 worth of marijuana inside the duffel bags.

Missouri coroner William Gum told reporters in May that Emmitt Foster, who'd just been executed by lethal injection, had remained alive for 30 minutes because the leather straps binding him to the table prevented the flow of drugs through his veins. After officials realized the problem, they loosened the straps, and Foster died quickly.

The nine-foot-tall, 800-pound statue of Babe Ruth unveiled at the entrance to the Baltimore Orioles stadium in May exemplifies artist Susan Luery's lavish attention to detail, down to the size of the Babe's belt loops. However, the Babe is shown holding a glove to be worn on the left hand, when actually he threw with his left hand.

In June a couple in their 30s revealed to newspapers in the Netherlands the results of their 1993 in-vitro fertilization at the University Hospital at Utrecht, one of the country's most prestigious clinics. The mother had twins, but apparently because a test-tube wasn't adequately cleaned, the mother's eggs had been fertilized with her husband's sperm as well as the sperm of another man. The couple is white, the other man is black. One twin is white, the other biracial.

Near Kansas City, Missouri, in June, 30,000 pounds of Jif peanut butter glopped onto I-70 from an 18-wheeler that overturned after hitting another truck.

The Weirdo-American Community

In May in the Bronx, New York, former Boy Scout leader David Weiser, 31, was charged with assault; he ran a private club whose induction ceremony seemed to be the severe paddling of boys' buttocks. About 40 boys and young men were members, and police seized photographs and wooden paddles from the club, as well as club records and copies of its bylaws. Unexplained in news reports was why Weiser called the club the CB Mafia and what the club did, other than recruit new members.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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