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News of the Weird


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In Hull, England, Judge Arthur Myerson ignited protest in March when he rejected a life sentence for rapist Brian David Huntley and gave him three years instead. Myerson said he gave the lesser sentence because Huntley "showed concern and consideration by wearing a contraceptive."


A February story in the Quad City Times reported that Dr. Steven C. Johnson, an obstetrician in Davenport, Iowa, cut off service to the wives of three school officials because his son was not given enough playing time in school basketball games. One of the wives was eight months pregnant at the time.

Tokyo police arrested Ryoji Akashi, 27, in January after his mother reported that he was planning a massacre at a class reunion because many former schoolmates had bullied him in junior high. The mother became suspicious on the day before the reunion when she smelled gasoline in his room and found the diary entry "I will kill them with bombs and poison."

In April, Barbara Mossner, 41, was ordered by a court in Mount Clemens, Michigan, to pay her ex-husband $2,800 for damaging his Frank Sinatra record collection and for drawing a mustache and glasses on his Sinatra poster.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher John Candelaria reportedly intentionally hit new teammate Juan Samuel with a pitch in an intrasquad practice game in March because Samuel had hit a game-winning home run off Candelaria when they were opponents in 1983.

Toronto resident Charles Fortin, 28, was convicted in November of mischief and harassment after spreading blood and animal body parts (cow scalp, ear, and leg) at the door of the office of his former lawyer, Katherine McLeod, after she had dropped his case and spurned his romantic advances.

Employees of the Merita Bread Company in Greensboro, North Carolina, noticed last year that their company coffee machine produced a foul-tasting brew and tried various remedies to improve the taste. Some employees then remembered a heated dispute they had had with a deliveryman who had access to the plant in evening hours, and they organized a stakeout. Dale David Tinstman, 46, was subsequently arrested for having urinated into the coffee machine daily for several months.

Weird Zoology

Casper the Great Dane recovered completely from a February incident in Portland, Maine, when he stopped to answer a call of nature beside a Central Maine Power Company utility pole. Unknown to him or to Peter Legere, who was walking him, the pole had short-circuited, and when Casper made contact he received a 20-volt shock. Legere said Casper was in pain for ten minutes and "disoriented" for about 24 hours.

In December police in Northumberland, England, investigated the alleged sexual abuse of a dolphin after a man was seen fondling the dolphin's genitals. Also in December, a naked woman reportedly leapt into Dingle Bay, in southwest Ireland, shouting, "Fungie [the name of the bay's resident dolphin], I love you." A British dolphin expert said dolphins' nonsexual use of their erect penises (to perform the same functions as a human arm) sometimes misleadingly arouses humans.

In March in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 10,000 bees descended on Maddie Mix's car just as it was being driven into the car wash at Gene Humphreys's auto shop. The bees kept landing even as the water sprayed them. A Louisiana State University bee expert said the bees were probably disoriented because they couldn't find their queen.

Last summer a class of 25 psychology students at Kalamazoo College in Michigan trained 14 rats as part of a class project in lieu of writing term papers. Among the tricks the rats mastered were the broad jump, tightrope walking, and playing soccer.

Randall D. Beer, a Case Western Reserve University professor, has created an artificial cockroach using a computer program that simulates a cockroach's "thinking" and behavior. Next he plans to build a six-legged robot to test and improve his design. Said Beer, "Cockroaches are infamously robust and flexible, and they adapt to complex dynamics. Those are qualities we'd like to see in artificial-intelligence systems."

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

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