News of the Weird

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The wood-products company Louisiana-Pacific Corp. claims success in changing its corporate culture from the selfish "reptilian" model to the nurturing "mammalian," according to workers interviewed in a December Washington Post report. Not only managers and bureaucrats but line workers such as a "burly machine operator" and a "trembling hulk of a guy" now routinely take responsibility for their feelings, acknowledging that workplace injustices don't make people angry, but rather workers suffering the injustices "make themselves angry." Said one machine operator, "Can you feel your mammalian being unleashed?"

Warning to dorks: Two British researchers told New Scientist magazine in December that they have developed prototype software to assist in crime-prevention by monitoring surveillance cameras and electronically identifying, by image pixels, people who are moving around in suspicious ways. As an example, said one of the developers, someone awkwardly approaching a car is probably up to no good. However, privacy advocates were alarmed at the news, fearing that police would target people who are merely gawky.


Adventures in Poland: A 51-year-old seamstress in the town of Stawold Wola, Poland, reporting for a routine mammogram in October, was found to have four sewing needles inside her left breast, probably the result of their having migrated in over the years from her habit of sticking them on the front of her apron. And USA Today reported in November that a funeral in a cemetery in western Poland was disrupted when a cell phone started ringing from inside a grave because attendants had failed to notice it in the deceased's suit before burial.

In July, inexperienced sailor Richard Stewart and his family set out from Newport, Rhode Island, on their 65-foot ketch, headed for Florida, where it had been scheduled for repairs. After a friend lost contact with the Stewarts, he called the Coast Guard, which tried unsuccessfully for 30 days, covering 85,000 square miles, to find the vessel. In August the disabled boat limped into Ocean City, Maryland, with the Stewarts completely unaware of the massive $75,000 rescue mission. Three months later the Stewarts set out for Florida again, and again became disabled, and on December 19 the Coast Guard found them (cost: $38,000) near Cape Fear, North Carolina.

Also, in the Last Month...

New York City finally removed "telephone psychic" from the list of jobs it subsidizes for its welfare-to-work program. A woman filed a lawsuit against a flamboyant obstetrician who carved his three-inch initials into her abdomen after a particularly pleasing Caesarean section (New York City). The University of Florida introduced the U.S.'s first Doctor of Plant Medicine degree program, to rival those for veterinarians and physicians. Federal drug agents busted a 2,000-customer cocaine-home-delivery business ($25 "small" order; $150 "large"; Domino's-like, 30-minute delivery) (New York City).


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