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News of the Weird

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According to confidential documents recently obtained by the Canadian Press news agency, police in Ottawa tried during the 1960s to identify every gay man in Ontario province and to prove their findings with a box they called the "fruit machine." Men were shown the box, which contained erotic photos; measurements were then taken of each man's pupil size, palm sweat, and blood flow in order to tell whether he was turned on. Files were kept on 8,200 men; 395 of them were eventually kicked out of government jobs.

Questionable Judgments

In February in Tampa, Florida, inmate Edward McIntyre, who was serving 90 years for kidnapping and assault, escaped from authorities while visiting a local high school. He had been invited there to make an inspirational speech honoring Law Day.

Tommie Lee Jackson, 39, was charged in Santa Clara County, California, in September with sexual assault after he forced a 20-year-old woman to fellate him. She defended herself with her teeth, an action that put one of Jackson's testicles in custody in a plastic bag in the police property room (said detective Don Bacon, "It's just another piece of evidence"). Jackson said the sex was consensual and that the woman simply couldn't take criticism.

In a January issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors in Australia reported on the puzzling case of a man who periodically spat up blood, usually only on Saturday and Sunday nights. The doctors finally isolated the problem: the man plays harmonica at a local club, and his technique requires such vigorous use of his tongue that he ruptures blood vessels. The doctors called the condition "harmonica player's hemoptysis."

Responding to employee complaints, Kansas Bureau of Investigation supervisors in December forced agent Scott Teeselink, the media spokesperson for the agency, to stop carrying women's underpants in his coat's breast pocket instead of the usual handkerchief. Teeselink said he engaged in the practice only because the underpants better matched his ties.

The Continuing Crisis

Edward L. Hennessy retired last June after 12 years as chief executive of the Allied-Signal conglomerate. Hennessy's departure spurred a rise in the value of Allied-Signal's stock; even his own stock in the company grew by over $7 million--because investors believed the company would be better off without him.

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology recently reported that the hydrocarbons and other particulates released when meat cooks accounts for one-fifth of the total particulates in the air in Los Angeles--more than the amount attributed to either gasoline or diesel engines.

In other pollution news the Southern California Air Quality Management District reported in December that tree resin and sap pollute the air, releasing as much as 250 tons of "vegetation hydrocarbons" per day.

Eastern Air Lines, out of business for 18 months since declaring bankruptcy in January 1991, continues to make campaign contributions through its political-action committee, which still had about $50,000 to spend as of early May.

Navy petty officer Francine Adams was out of work for two days in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with a concussion resulting from a fight with her boyfriend. She was reprimanded in April for the fight, although a navy official said Adams has repeatedly sought counseling for the relationship for four years.

Least Competent Magazine

In May Glamour magazine (which has a circulation of two million) reported that its June issue had just hit the stands containing an error: it had advised taking "500 mg of boric acid tablets three times a day with meals" to avoid yeast infections, but neglected to mention that the tablets must be taken vaginally, not orally.

The Weirdo-American Community

Louis Arnaud, 72, was set for trial in Wheeling, West Virginia, in May for the murder of local businessman John G. Christakis. Police said Arnaud's motive was his irritation at how cluttered Christakis kept a warehouse formerly owned by him. Arnaud's lawyer said his defense is that his dog implanted the idea in his mind that "the Greek [Christakis] must die" when the dog stuck his tongue inside Arnaud's mouth during a play session.

The Diminishing Value of Life

In June John Richard Nosler was convicted of shooting Armando Marra to death in 1990 because Marra was insufficiently grateful for the loaf of bread Nosler had brought him. According to Nosler's statement, read at the trial, "(Marra) rudely said, 'Well, give it to me.' This was the comment that actually pushed me over the edge." Nosler had shot Marra four times, then said to himself, "Well, I can't stop now," and fired again.

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

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