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News of the Weird

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The local board of health briefly closed down the Wing Wah Chinese restaurant in South Dennis, Massachusetts, in August for various violations. The most serious, said officials, was the restaurant's practice of draining water from cabbage by putting it in cloth laundry bags, then placing them between two pieces of plywood in the parking lot and driving over them with a van. Said health director Ted Dumas, "I've seen everything now."

The Continuing Crisis

To get a "specific use permit" for a building in San Marcos, Texas, the occupier must qualify for a certain number of points. For example, a San Marcos State University fraternity house can earn 1 point for notifying the police 48 hours before a social event, 3 points for posting a Maximum Occupancy sign, and 6 points for passing and posting formal rules against activities that could result in death or sexual assault.

In August in Zanesville, Ohio, two fire fighters fought each other instead of the fire at Connie Rider's house. The assistant chief had warned one of his men, who was carrying a fire hose, not to get too close to a downed power line. When the man continued to approach it, the assistant chief pulled the hose to stop him. The two men fell to the ground scuffling while a bystander grabbed the hose and fought the fire.

In July a Los Angeles Times story on the fear of heights featured an interview with the psychotherapist who heads the Anxiety Disorders Association. He reported that one of his patients could cross the 200-foot-high Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland only if his wife drove the car and locked him in the trunk.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center recently revealed that Iran's philatelic contribution to the 1991 International Day of the Child commission was a commemorative of a young boy hurling a rock through a window emblazoned with a Star of David.

Australian professor Brian Taylor, head of the University of Sydney's Language Centre, told reporters in August that the government should teach newly arrived immigrants to cuss as a stimulus to acculturation. However, he said, swearing in English is much "weaker" than in Russian, Hungarian, or Spanish.

People With Too Much Time on Their Hands

The European reported that a wildlife park in Somerset, England, booked a 60-piece symphony orchestra to serenade an elephant in order to encourage him to mate, since he had shown no interest in the five females that had been available to him for several months. Cost of the symphony booking: about $18,000.

The most popular video in Sweden earlier this year was a 60-minute, $35 video of a fireplace fire, shown from ignition until it turns to cinders; it also features a sound track of burning wood.

Library officials in Sidney, a town north of Victoria, British Columbia, report that a "mystery editor" has been stalking the library this year, compulsively "correcting" text of which he disapproves. For example, long notes handwritten in margins of books explain why "the British Isles" is not the same thing as "Great Britain."

As of July, the Pentagon has awarded nearly four million National Defense Service Medals for work in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, even though only 500,000 troops actually served in the Persian Gulf. The medal will be routinely awarded to everyone in uniform until the conflict officially ends.

A new computer toy, SimAnt, which puts players in charge of an ant colony, has recently arrived on the market. The goal of the game is to conquer a suburban backyard and drive the residents from their home. Notes the advertising brochure: "SimAnt is more than just a game. It's a way of life."

The Weirdo-American Community

A 22-year-old man, discharged from the U.S. Army on August 3, showed up three days later at a day-care center in Escondido, California, wearing a wet diaper under his jeans and a note pinned to his shirt stating that he was retarded and asking that someone change the diaper. At first, center personnel took the note seriously, but they called police when they noticed that the man had become aroused by the diaper change.

Least Competent Person

In March Steven A. DeFoor was arrested in Warren, Ohio, moments after allegedly robbing a downtown Bank One branch. According to police, DeFoor planned to exit the bank building through an elevator, which he incorrectly assumed was automatic. While the elevator operator was down the hall helping to move some furniture, DeFoor waited in the elevator for the door to close until bank employees pointed him out to arriving officers.

The Diminishing Value of Life

Alfred Abadie, 37, was arrested in New Orleans in September and charged with the murder of his neighbor, Kurt King. According to neighbors, the two had been arguing because King had run his edging machine three inches into Abadie's yard.

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

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