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News of the Weird

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In January in Montreal Judge Raymonde Verreault sentenced a 37-year-old Muslim man to only 23 months in prison for a series of sexual assaults from 1989 to 1991 on his stepdaughter, who was nine years old when the attacks started. Verreault said she decided on a light sentence because the man had "spared the victim." She explained that because the assaults had been sodomy and not "normal" intercourse, the stepdaughter "retained her virginity, which seems to be a very important value in their religion."

Frontiers of Science

Researchers at Rotterdam's Erasmus University reported in the December Behavioral Neuroscience that injecting a certain hormone into young male rats made them attempt to mate with males each day at dusk, though not at other times.

In December Rory Thompson, 57, was granted a patent for a device that allows people to see an ordinary color TV or computer screen in three dimensions. Thompson developed the device while in Risdon Prison Hospital in Hobart, Australia, where he's been since he was declared insane following a 1984 conviction for killing his wife and flushing parts of her body down a toilet.

In January several students in Keota, Oklahoma, accused their industrial arts teacher of forcing them to hold live wires as a way of learning about electricity.

Paul Hernandez, 56, died in Miami in December from injuries suffered 32 years earlier, when he was part of the U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. During an ambush by Cuban soldiers he'd been shot in the head and had suffered frequent seizures ever since.

The Bangkok Post reported in October that several charlatan physicians has recently performed at least 100 bogus penis-enlargement operations in Thailand. The procedures involved injections of a mixture of olive oil, chalk, and various substances to provide bulk. Said a hospital official in the city of Chiang Mai, "I've even seen [victims' penises containing] bits of the Bangkok telephone directory."

Detroit dermatologist Dr. Duyen Faria told Gannett News Service in July that his experimental project could help millions of American adults with serious wounds. Instead of taking skin from the patient's own body to use as a graft, Faria uses foreskins from circumcised infants.

In December the Associated Press reported on research conducted by Dr. James M. Dabbs, a psychology professor at Georgia State University, on determining personality by examining hormones. Dabbs prefers using hormones found in saliva to those found in blood because it's easier to get subjects to spit. "Dr. Spit," as Dabbs is known, said he's a pioneer in the field because other researchers might view working with spit as "unseemly."

Neurologist Dr. Angelika Hahn of the University of Western Ontario told the Associated Press in November that a genetic cause has been found for "startle disease," which makes victims overreact when startled, sometimes even becoming stiff and failing over. Because these people are unable to break their falls, they're vulnerable to bone fractures.

In July research entomologist Gene Lamire of Naples, Florida, set up the nation's first mosquito-trapping program that uses the fragrance of "cows breath" as the lure. Building on research from Africa, Lamire installed 42 traps containing the synthetic chemical Octenol, which mosquitos evidentally find irresistible. Within the first month "millions" of mosquito carcasses were found in the traps.

Cries for Help

In a recent medical-journal article five Phoenix physicians reported the case of a 34-year-old man who manually forced a ballpoint pen through his right eye in an apparent suicide attempt; only about one inch of the pen was left sticking out. The physicians' literature search yielded a dozen other cases of "self-inflicted, nonmissile, penetrating, intracranial injuries," involving nails, a steel spring, a hook pin, and an awl.

Least Competent Reactions to Winter

In January John Porter tried to thaw the frozen pipes in his house in Farmingville, New York, by backing his car up to an open window so the exhaust could warm the basement. Shortly afterward Porter, his wife, and their three children had to be rushed to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.

George Gibbs, 23, suffered secondand third-degree burns on his head in Columbus, Ohio, in January after deciding his car had a frozen fuel line. Thinking he could fix it by running warm gasoline through the line, he tried to heat a two-gallon can of gasoline on a gas stove.

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

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