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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

Last month Steve Mann, a 39-year-old professor at the University of Toronto, sued Air Canada and the Canadian transportation authority after he was detained for two days as a security risk at the airport in Saint John's, Newfoundland. Mann, who calls himself a cyborg, has conducted ongoing research for the past 20 years by wearing computerized glasses and headgear and an electronic bodysuit that allow him to see behind him, "feel" items across the room, and maintain constant contact with the Internet. He claims that the airport personnel broke about $50,000 worth of his equipment and that he was bleeding from having his chest electrodes removed.

Kenneth Abraham, professor of torts at the University of Virginia, says he taps a random student on the shoulder as part of his lecture on assault and battery to illustrate the principle that even negligible unwanted contact can be costly if the victim is uniquely vulnerable. Last month Marta Sanchez, a student Abraham tapped, sued him for $35,000, charging that the tap--which she calls a "caress"--brought back memories of rape and constituted assault and battery.

Great Art!

Last Christmas season, to celebrate fertilization of the earth, the Copia art emporium in Napa, California, exhibited 35 statuettes by Spanish artist Antoni Miralda of figures squatting on toilets, including nuns, angels, Santa Claus, and the pope. According to a spokesperson for the emporium, such statuettes are traditionally part of Christmas nativity scenes in Catalonia.

Last month British avant-garde artist Tracey Emin (whose most famous work is a messy bed) posted flyers in her neighborhood announcing that her cat had run away, but the posters began disappearing and were being offered for sale, priced as high as $800. A spokesperson for East London's White Cube gallery who typically explains to reporters why Emin's work is art had to switch gears and convince them that the flyers were not.

Next month 39-year-old New York artist Chrissy Conant will display 13 of her reproductive eggs, floating in silicone, at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Conant says that the exhibit addresses the pressure women feel when their biological clocks are ticking and added that she was actively seeking a man: "Consider me for consumption and consider my eggs, because I think they're pretty good."

People Different From Us

Last month the U.S. Postal Service disclosed that ten men--among them a nurse, a middle school teacher, a former Boy Scout leader, and a former Sunday school teacher--had been convicted for participating in an Internet club in which they exchanged videos of themselves beating children (often their own). One man who wanted to join the club but lacked an authentic video made one of himself administering corporal punishment to a small mannequin.

Unclear on the Concept

Carol Urness, a recently retired librarian for the University of Minnesota, used about 1,000 volumes from her personal collection to open a used-book store two months ago in Saint Anthony, Minnesota, but according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune she's having a hard time parting with her merchandise. "The first day, a woman walked in and bought three books, and I about had a stroke," said Urness. "This bookstore is hard to find, and once you get here, it's almost impossible to buy anything."

A law passed recently in Oregon makes the registration fee for partly electric automobiles $15 more expensive than for gas-guzzlers to compensate for the loss of gasoline taxes.

Our Civilization in Decline

The letter in which Tony Sanchez thanked the Texas State Teachers Association for its endorsement of his gubernatorial candidacy contained run-on sentences, a dangling modifier, subject-verb disagreement, and the word gonernor....And in January a 27-year-old woman in Camarillo, California, told reporters that when she called police on Saturday, December 22, to report a sexual assault, she was told that the staff is limited on weekends and she should call back Monday morning.

In the Last Month

Thierry Meyssan hit the best-seller list in France with The Frightening Fraud, which theorizes that the U.S. government staged the September 11 attack on the Pentagon....In Slidell, Louisiana, two people commandeered a Krispy Kreme truck with its back door open and led police on a chase that left a 15-mile trail of scattered doughnuts....And the management of a Miami nursing home argued that its workers' vote to unionize should be overturned because, prior to the vote, someone put voodoo signs around the home, frightening the Haitian-American employees.

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

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