News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*New Scientist magazine reported in April on how weaker males in two animal species end up fathering almost as many offspring as their studly competitors. Researcher Brian Preston told a conference in Newcastle, England, that strong rams get more sex but that toward the end of mating season they may run out of sperm, leaving females to scrawnier rams. And a team from Liverpool University reported that strong flour beetles' spiny penises can scrape previously deposited sperm from females, to allow their own sperm to prevail, but that some of the scraped sperm remains on the penis during the male's next conquest. Thus, the subsequent female is sometimes impregnated not by the current male but by the residue sperm of a male she has never encountered.

*After marathon partisan sessions in March, the Alabama Senate reached agreement to permit Lieutenant Governor Steve Windom to retain his traditional presiding powers. However, during the fierce debates, Windom was forced to remain continually at the presiding officer's podium, and things got so tense on March 28 that he had to urinate into a pitcher because opponents would have won votes if he had taken a restroom break.

Leading Economic Indicators
*In January, a pair of dolls was introduced in Japan, consisting of a female with her hands out asking for a loan and a male banker in a business suit rejecting her. And in Mompos, Colombia, in March, local teachers stole about 50 Easter figurines from a church and vowed not to return them until the city issued their six-months-overdue paychecks. And Nike announced in March that it was raising the minimum wage for its Indonesian workers, to about $37 per month, which in the U.S. buys one-fourth of a pair of Air Jordans.

Recurring Themes
*News of the Weird reported in 1994 on a Nassau County, New York, cell block bragging contest and fight over pay-telephone privileges between notorious murderers Colin Ferguson (commuter-train killer) and Joel Rifkin (prostitute killer). Better spirited are the twice-a-week bull sessions at the Supermax federal prison in Florence, Colorado, of bombers Timothy McVeigh, Ramzi Yousef and Ted Kaczynski. Said one former prosecutor, "This is the oddest kaffeeklatsch in the history of Western civilization."

*The late Bennie Casson's unsuccessful lawsuit against a Sauget, Illinois, stripper's club for neck injuries caused by a dancer's swinging her breasts at him was all over the news in 1997. In February 1999, Mark Kent, 28, filed assault charges against the Kappa Kabana club, Kappa, Illinois, after a dancer tried to wrap her legs around his neck while holding onto a pole on stage, causing Kent to fall off a bar stool and hit his head and elbow.

Anyway, They Survived the Crash
*A 22-year-old woman in an car crash in Pendleton, Oregon, in January was placed in an ambulance, but seconds later a tractor-trailer skidded into it, crushing it and killing the woman. And a 36-year-old man survived a head-on crash into a utility pole in Miami Beach, Florida, in January, and was waiting to be picked up when the pole fell on top of him and killed him.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

 
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