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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

In the December issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal two Ontario pediatricians praised the Super Soaker Max-D 5000 squirt gun for its effectiveness in removing impacted earwax. Describing an emergency wax removal conducted on a rural island where no ear syringe was available, the doctors suggested that the water stream produced by the Max-D 5000 might be superior to that of the syringing equipment typically used and that the greater capacity of its water reservoir (meaning fewer refills) could speed up the procedure. On the other hand, they conceded, the placement of the pump mechanism prevents the gun from being held directly to the ear, resulting in both patient and doctor being drenched by excess spray.

Compelling Explanations

After her 11-year-old son was suspended from school in November for twice bringing in a loaded handgun and dozens of rounds of ammunition to show his classmates, Linnea Holdren of Shickshinny, Pennsylvania, said the matter was beyond her control. "Well, I can't lock up his guns," she reportedly responded to a police offer of a free gun lock. "They belong to him and he has a right to use them whenever he wants to use them." In January the boy was expelled for at least a year, and the 43-year-old Holdren, who is a special-education teacher at the school, was suspended and charged with felony endangerment.

Cultural Diversity

In January London's Observer reported on Torben Vegener Hansen of Aarhus, Denmark, and his fight with the Danish government. According to Danish disability guidelines people who live in institutions are entitled to help in obtaining sex and can ask staff to accompany them to see prostitutes. (Denmark legalized prostitution in 1999.) Now the 59-year-old Vegener Hansen, a former social worker with cerebral palsy (he uses a wheelchair) who lives alone and receives some public aid, has called upon the government to pay for prostitutes to make house calls. He said that he doesn't need this service currently, as he has a girlfriend, but might otherwise require two visits a month.

Burying the Lede

Writing in the British Medical Journal in December, researcher Jean-Louis Martin of the Universite Claude Bernard in Lyons, France, reported that French motorists driving under the influence of marijuana were nearly twice as likely to be involved in a fatal accident as drivers who hadn't used the drug. Less prominently noted in the article (and consequently in news reports about it) was that though French drivers are just as likely to use marijuana as alcohol, alcohol accounted for more than 11 times as many fatal crashes.

Totally Unsurprising

According to a December article in the Edinburgh paper the Scotsman, documents recently discovered in Moscow archives revealed that in the mid-1920s the Soviet government ordered scientists to crossbreed humans and apes into a race of "living war machines" that would be "insensitive to pain" and "indifferent about the quality of food they eat."

People With Issues

Paul James Stewart Scott of Boulder County, Colorado, was arrested in March 2004 after he attempted to arrange online a series of sexual encounters with underage girls to be followed by his own murder at their hands. In January 2005, however, two days before he was due to be sentenced for solicitation of child prostitution, the 54-year-old Scott and his 49-year-old wife committed suicide; according to Colorado Springs police the couple had set up a trust allowing them to leave their estate to their parrot, Greeny.

Least Competent Criminals

Three men who authorities say stole a car in San Jose, California, in October and drove it to Chico, California, were arrested in Chico when police caught them allegedly trying to break into the car after misplacing the keys. (Or so they thought; an arresting officer said he found the keys in one man's pocket.) And Adam Ruiz, 29, was arrested in Grand Island, New York, in January after he showed up for his first day of work at a Burger King he had allegedly robbed the week before.

Recurring Themes

More ridiculous legal theories: Postal worker Gregory Ignatius Armstrong, 42, was indicted on fraud charges in Greenbelt, Maryland, in December. After supervisor Odell Johnson suspended him from work for repeated absences, Armstrong initiated involuntary bankruptcy proceedings against Johnson in which he asserted himself to be a sovereign nation with unlimited contract powers, declared that he'd copyrighted his own name, and claimed that Johnson owed him $1,000,000 for its unlawful use. And Oliver Clifton Hudson and Gregory Wayne Banks refused to participate in their drug-conspiracy trial in Baltimore in November, arguing that their "flesh and blood" was not subject to the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Hudson (employing different obfuscatory tactics reported in News of the Weird in 2001 and 2004) claimed that the indictment as filed didn't apply to him because it gave his name in all capital letters; his name, he argued, is properly written "Oliver Clifton: Hudson." (Both Hudson and Banks were convicted.)

No Longer Weird

Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but which now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: (75) People who break into electrical substations and get electrocuted while attempting to steal valuable but live copper wire (as did a man in Bellmead, Texas, in December). (76) Disoriented wild animals (particularly males in mating season) that accidentally enter buildings by crashing through a window (and often exit through another window, as in the case of buck deer that made unexpected January appearances in a video store in Evansville, Indiana, and an elementary school in Arkansas City, Kansas).

Correction: An item in the January 13 column gave the impression that the community of Eagle Mountain, Utah, was the creation of a single developer. Bigg Homes is actually only one of several developers selling houses there.

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

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