News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Professor Kevin Warwick of Reading (England) University told The Times of London in May that "several" firms had approached him about surgically implanting transponder microchips into their workers as a way of keeping track of their hours and whereabouts. Cybernetics expert Warwick last year put a chip into his own forearm to demonstrate the technology, which will be further exhibited in England beginning in 2001 to keep track of pets and might, he said, be used to keep track of people who are granted licenses to carry firearms.

*Jose Lopezes in the Operating Room: In May, Jose Maria Lopez, 33, had a foot amputated at Whittier (California) Hospital Medical Center. He still has two remaining; what was taken was a six-inch footlike growth inside his left ankle that has always hampered his walking and limited his shoe selection. And a few days earlier, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, surgeons removed a miniature bottle from the rectum of a Jose Lopez, 43. He said he got drunk and passed out and thus has no idea how the bottle got there.

*No More Inhumane Punishment: In May controversial Phoenix tough-guy sheriff Joe Arpaio announced he would institute bedtime stories at the Maricopa County jails, consisting of audiotapes of classic novels (e.g., Little Women) to be read at lights-out every night. The novels replace the previous bedtime fare, which ran for four years: a videotaped lecture series by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Ironies
*According to an April Tampa Tribune story, the following fates have befallen young men who in recent years have recovered the submerged, religiously blessed cross in annual diving competitions during the Epiphany festival in Tarpon Springs, Florida: One died in a car accident; one suffered a severe spinal injury; one was arrested on burglary charges; and, this year, according to police, two former winners and a third diver were charged with attempted murder for bashing two people's skulls with shovels because their car was going too slow.

*In a brawl at a recreation league softball game in Granada Hills, California, in March, which started after an umpire changed a call from safe to out, four off-duty Los Angeles police officers on one of the teams were roughed up with softball bats. Things went so bad for the officers that one ran to his car, retrieved his weapon and held the other team at bay until on-duty officers arrived.

Recurring Themes
*The Classic Middle Name (continued, and getting out of hand): Executed for murder, in Florence, Arizona, in May: Robert Wayne Vickers. Convicted of murder, in Frederick, Maryland, in March: Bruce Wayne Koenig and in Lenexa, Kansas, in May, Rodney Wayne Henry. Confessed to murder, in Fort Worth, Texas, in March: Arthur Wayne Goodman Jr. Sentenced for murder, in Prattville, Alabama, in May: Timothy Wayne Barnett. Charged with murder, in Birmingham, Alabama, in May: Percy Wayne Froman, and in Houston in April: Bradley Wayne Cagle.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

 
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