News of the Weird

Lead Stories

Police in North Platte, Nebraska, have been looking for a man who has appeared several times in public since early July wearing baby clothes and have taken to naming him (after his most prominent article of clothing) "The Big Bonnet." He was last spotted on October 29, bending over a bench paddling himself.

Stephanie England complained to school authorities in Joplin, Missouri, in October after her son Preston's fifth-grade teacher brought in a plastic bag of cat feces and taped it to Preston's desk for an hour as an object lesson. The punishment went too far, England said, even though she acknowledged that Preston has a problem, at home and at school, in overusing the phrase "Suck a turd." Said England, "We've gotten on to him about it."

Recent Workplace Tragedies

Two chicken-processing plant workers suffocated when they accidentally fell into a nine-foot-deep pit of chicken parts (Robards, Kentucky, July). A two-story brick house being moved to make way for an expressway fell off a trailer and crushed a worker to death (Clairton, Pennsylvania, September). An 18-year-old worker was crushed to death in a dough-mixing machine at a bakery (Oakville, Ontario, July). And a 16-year-old worker was crushed to death in another bakery's dough-making machine (Toronto, September).

Leading Economic Indicators

Electrical contractor Akira Hareruya, 36, whose company went bankrupt, has been working the streets of Tokyo this year trying to earn back the money by inviting passersby to put on boxing gloves and take swings at him for about $9 a minute. He promises not to hit back, but only to try to evade the punches, and suggests that his customers relieve their stresses verbally as they swing. He told the Los Angeles Times that he averages about $200 a night.

In July, during lifeguard tryouts in Huntington Beach, California, only 20 of the 129 applicants were deemed even minimally qualified, and six of the other 109 had to be rescued themselves, during the half-mile swim. And in June the Pine Bluff (Arkansas) Commercial, citing state medical board records, reported that the family of the late Ms. Marvelous Cann has alleged that surgeon Michael Joseph Rook frequently operated while alcohol-impaired and in fact mistook Ms. Cann's heart for a lung while performing gallbladder surgery in 1998.

Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but which now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: (37) people who just can't seem to pick up the phone to make burial arrangements for recently expired loved ones, such the 73-year-old woman in Tucson, Arizona, whose husband died in 1995 but whose body was still in his bed in September 1999, or the 50-year-old man in Elizabeth, Indiana, whose mother died in 1994, but her body was still in a chair in October 1999. And (38) schools' "zero tolerance" policies for "weapons" such as fingernail clippers, which resulted in a 45-day suspension for a seven-year-old boy in Cahokia, Illinois, in September.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

 
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