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News of the Weird

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Terence Cunningham, a Unitarian in Palo Alto, California, embarked earlier this year on a campaign to raise $70 million to build a rocket ship and lunar-landing vehicle for the purpose of placing a copy of the Bible on the moon. Cunningham told the Mountain View Voice that in case civilization is destroyed on earth by plagues, wars, or, in his words, "acts of god," the Bible would be preserved. He also said it would be safe from tampering there.

Uh-Oh

Northwestern University in Evanston hosted the first International Tuba-Euphonium Conference in June. One composition included a crescendo requiring 750 tubas to play at once.

In May, over the opposition of state senator Joe Neal, the Nevada senate passed a bill prohibiting people from carrying guns while drunk. Neal argued that the bill would hurt activities of gun clubs, some of which permit drinking during target-shooting socials.

In May researchers at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory proposed that certain bantam chickens could be raised in radiation-contaminated areas in Aiken, South Carolina, where there's a nuclear weapons plant, without harming people who eat the birds, because the chickens supposedly rid themselves of any radioactive contaminants they ingest in about ten days. Said one researcher, "If . . . you call it radioactively cleaned meat and you put it on the [grocery] shelf for half price, I bet people in this country would eat it."

In April a 54-year-old truck driver filed a $10 million lawsuit in Gallatin, Tennessee, over a defective penile implant that he says "took all the manhood from me." The man said he suffered blisters, bruising, infection, and embarrassment. According to his attorney, "He could be just walking down the street, and it would erect on its own."

Larry Wayne Harris, a septic-tank inspector in Dublin, Ohio, and a member of the Aryan Nations white supremacist group, was charged in May with purchasing vials of freeze-dried bubonic plague bacteria under the pretense of conducting research. He told American Type Culture Collection in Rockville, Maryland, that he owned a lab.

David Zaricor, 19, was charged with manslaughter in July in Jefferson County, Missouri, in connection with an auto collision that killed a 70-year-old woman in another car. Highway patrol records reveal that Zaricor told a trooper at the scene that he lost control of his car when his girlfriend bit him during a sex act.

In July Reuters news service reported that a dentist named Garrett in Leeds, England, had been fined about $300,000 in damages for unnecessary and painful dental work designed to boost his income. Over the course of several years one patient underwent at least 25 sessions that treated 13 teeth with 18 pins, ten crowns, and two root canals.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

During his term of office, Albany, New York, mayor Thomas Whalen III closed a firehouse despite the sharp protests of people who lived nearby. In January, after Whalen left office, his car caught fire near the former firehouse and burned up.

In January in Baltimore Michael Wayne Heim, 26, pleaded guilty to arson. In June 1994, he stole his ex-wife's car, set it on fire in the street, and attempted to run it into her mother's house. However, the flames got out of hand with Heim still in the car, and the resulting crash and fire left him in a coma for 23 days and burned him so severely that he needed several skin grafts.

First Things First

Vicente Vinarao, director of the bureau of corrections in the Philippines, complained in July that lack of funds was preventing him from carrying out his duties. The country has 54 people sentenced to die in a gas chamber, but no gas chamber. An emergency bill passed last year authorizes executions to be carried out by electrocution until a gas chamber can be built, but the electric chair was destroyed several years ago by lightning.

Newspaper editor Glenn Sorlie died on May 2 in Belgrade, Montana, of a staph infection, but his wife didn't notify anyone until May 4 so that his weekly newspaper, the High Country Independent Press, could publish his obituary before its competition, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, did. Said Mrs. Sorlie, "He wouldn't want to get scooped on his own death."

Accused smuggler Morteza Farakesh, 48, was convicted in May of possessing $2 million worth of morphine during a 1993 layover at Kennedy airport in New York. According to the prosecutor, Farakesh could have picked a less customs-intense airport than JFK, but chose to make his connection there to take advantage of an Alitalia supersaver fare.

The Washington Post reported in April that the Department of Defense is testing two antivomiting drugs that it hopes will allow soldiers to continue to perform their missions for a short time after a nuclear attack, before they die of the effects of nuclear radiation.

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

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