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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

In an article published in May in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, biologists at Washington University in Saint Louis described evolutionary forces affecting the size of male genitalia among an inch-long guppylike fish called the mosquitofish: Female mosquitofish prefer males with larger genitalia, but having large genitals can prevent males from swimming fast enough to elude predators. As a result, male genital size is greater among mosquitofish populations that live in predator-free environments.

Leading Economic Indicators

According to a July article in the Hindustan Times, the Uttar Pradesh Eunuchs Association, in Lucknow, India, has demanded that local officials crack down on fake eunuchs. Eunuchs often earn money by dancing at weddings and other occasions to remove bad luck (or simply demanding payment to go away), but apparently growing numbers of noneunuchs have been posing as eunuchs to cut in on the action.

You Mean These Are Crimes?

Police in West Hartford, Connecticut, arrested Matthew Flynn, 46, in August; apparently enraged by the repetitive music coming from an ice cream truck on his block, Flynn allegedly threatened to castrate the teenage truck driver with a pair of hedge clippers. Also in August, David Rye, 48, was arrested in Simi Valley, California, after he allegedly tried to silence the car alarm of a Toyota parked near his apartment by firing at least three bullets into the car.

First Things First

In July in San Marcos, Texas, 48-year-old Dave Newman rescued a 35-year-old swimmer caught in an eddy in the San Marcos River, pulling the man underneath a waterfall and back to shore; immediately afterward police arrested Newman for his failure to cooperate with emergency workers called to the scene. And in June, according to police in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Dorothea Thomas was shot six times and escaped her assailant, allegedly her ex-boyfriend, only by jumping from her apartment's second-story balcony. When she returned from the hospital she found an eviction notice on her door; her landlord of nine years had decided that since Thomas had invited her ex onto the property, his actions constituted a breach of her lease.

According to an August article in the Dallas Morning News, star wide receiver Brandon Jackson had begun practice with the Lancaster High football team, encumbered only somewhat by his ankle monitor. Jackson is under house arrest while awaiting trial on six counts of aggravated robbery stemming from two incidents in the Dallas suburbs in January. Apparently firm believers in the presumption of innocence, Lancaster officials hope that, pending the approval of his transfer from North Mesquite, he'll be able to play for Lancaster at least until his trial, scheduled for October 17.

Wanted on several traffic violations in Mineral County, Montana, Werner D. Anderson led deputies on a June car chase that crossed county lines, then slowed to about 20 miles per hour before he finally surrendered at a roadblock. Officials said that when Anderson got out of his van, they saw a syringe package fall to the ground; he reportedly explained he'd been driving so slowly at the end because he was trying to shoot up cocaine.

Least Competent Criminals

Jeremy Suggs, 21, was arrested in Las Vegas in August and charged with robbing a Wells Fargo bank earlier that day. According to police, he had ordered everyone onto the floor, then accidentally fired a shot into the ceiling, narrowly missing his own head; Suggs told investigators that his shooting a bank customer was another accident, though witnesses said she'd had difficulty understanding his directions. After tellers failed to get up off the floor and give Suggs any money, he fled empty-handed, inadvertently leaving behind his wallet and a deposit slip on which he'd written his name. His alleged getaway driver reportedly had talked him into the crime by assuring him there weren't any surveillance cameras at that particular branch, but of course there were.

Reasonable Ideas

The Telegraph of North Platte, Nebraska, reported in June on Arthur Richardson, who accidentally swallowed the only key to a friend's pickup truck and was told by ER staff that it could take two or three days to pass it. Unwilling to wait, the two men called locksmith John Somers and explained the situation; Somers successfully made a new key using an X-ray of Richardson's stomach as his only guide. And in July the Telegraph of London, England, reported on one woman's campaign to get kids to stop wearing hooded sweatshirts and baseball caps--linked by UK authorities to antisocial behavior and crime--by encouraging the elderly to wear the same garments. "Once older people like us get hold of them," grandmother Mari Wingate explained, "they lose all their street cred."

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

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