News of the Weird | News of the Weird | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » News of the Weird

News of the Weird


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Lead Stories

On the heels of a scientific report about the rise in posthumous sperm extraction (which makes it possible for dead men to sire children) comes a June report that an Israeli researcher has succeeded in extracting ovarian tissue from aborted fetuses, keeping it alive in a petri dish, and getting it to develop past its "primordial" state. Dr. Tal Biron-Shenton's work could eventually yield fertilizable human eggs, in which case an aborted fetus could become a mother without ever having been born.

In June, Reuters profiled Jerri Lyons, 55, of Sebastopol, California, who conducts seminars on the legalities and etiquette of do-it-yourself funerals, which she promotes as an alternative to expensive funeral-home services. According to Lyons, personally bathing and dressing a deceased loved one makes the loss easier to accept. Tip: The deceased should be put on ice after about 24 hours (in a pinch, packages of frozen vegetables can be substituted for ice). An analyst for the funeral industry said Lyons was not seen as a threat and attributed a slump in profits to "a soft mortality rate due in part to a weak flu season."

Family Values

According to a wrongful-firing lawsuit filed in June by Stephanie Shepherd, a former media relations assistant for the Sacramento Kings basketball team, star player Doug Christie scrupulously avoids speaking to any female other than his wife out of "respect" for the latter. Shepherd says that her professional duties were gradually reduced to nothing after she passed along a telephone message to Christie and Mrs. Christie found out about it.

On May 25 in the town of Baqubah, Iraq, Ms. Iman Salih Mutlak, 22, was gunned down by U.S. soldiers after she charged at them carrying grenades. While some Iraqis hailed Mutlak as a martyr, her family in Zaqaniyah, Iraq, disavowed her--not because they are pro-American but because she shamed them by leaving the house without permission. "Had she returned home, I would have killed her myself and drunk her blood," declared her father to an Associated Press reporter.

Compelling Explanations

In June the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency explained that a recent test launch, in which an SM-3 rocket failed to hit the incoming missile it was supposed to shoot down, was actually a success. "I wouldn't call it a failed test, because the intercept was not the primary objective," said an MDA spokesman. "It's still considered a success in that we gained great engineering data. We just don't know why it didn't hit."

Last month Gilbert D. Walker, 43, was arrested in Panama City, Florida, for breaking into a neighbor's house and chasing her with a dagger; he attributed his behavior to an overdose of jasmine tea. In June, Amanda C. Hagan, 29, who overdosed on heroin while undergoing supervised withdrawal in a hospital in Norristown, Pennsylvania, filed suit against the hospital, complaining that she shouldn't have been allowed to see the visitor who supplied her with drugs. And last month Clint Jackson, 24, a former Rochester, New York, police officer convicted of fondling eight women during traffic stops, said he was contemplating suing the police department on the grounds that he had not been properly trained for his job.


In 2000 we reported the arrest of Tyrone Henry in Tucson for operating a scam in which female college students were paid to test a facial cream called "White Dew"--actually Henry's semen. Henry, 30, was sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud, but according to a recent Tucson Weekly article, he adamantly maintains that he broke no laws with his scheme to sell photos of the women's semen-spattered faces on the Internet.

No Longer Weird

Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but which now occur so routinely that they must be retired from circulation: (63) Genetic modification experiments using jellyfish genes to create organisms that light up, like the glowing zebra fish marketed as a pet by the Taikong Corporation of Taiwan. (64) The phony cop who makes a freelance traffic stop only to discover that the person he's trying to pull over is a real cop, which happened when Clifford Holloway, 30, tried to stop off-duty officer Matthew Bandler in Jackson County, Missouri, just south of Kansas City.

In the Last Month

Becky Nyang, 26, was hospitalized after being struck by lightning. The bolt was conducted to the inside of Nyang's body by her tongue stud, leaving her with severe blisters about the mouth, face, and feet (Corfu, Greece). And a four-year-old girl was hit by a computer thrown from the 12th-story apartment of a South Korean father, who was angry because his daughter had failed to look up from the online game she was playing in order to greet him (Seoul).

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

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment