News of the Weird
*Life Imitates the Movie "Take the Money and Run": Vincent E. Rudolph, 36, was arrested in York, Pennsylvania, in March and charged with three robberies, in at least one of which he allegedly used a holdup note that read, "Give me the money I got a gum."
*An April Associated Press report from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, described recent intensive competition for dead bodies. The government has been offering $100 to any family that will relocate deceased relatives' bodies from a certain graveyard to another, to make way for a new road. However, families that declined soon learned they must stand guard over their relatives' graves every night lest robbers move the bodies themselves, for the bounty.
*In May a jury in Birmingham, Alabama, ruled in favor of Barbara Carlisle and her parents in their lawsuit against two companies responsible for charging them 18 months' more payments than what the salesman originally promised for two satellite dishes, a total overcharge of $1,224. The jury awarded the plaintiffs $581 million.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
*Recent Inventions: In March Bruce Bryan of Pittsburgh received a patent for making food that glows, using a substance taken from jellyfish and fireflies. And in February three fashion houses in South Korea began marketing men's suits containing fragrant microcapsules that burst when caressed. And fifth grader Christie Brown of Prince George, British Columbia, said in March that a company was interested in her science-fair-winning project: a frozen cracker that would not get soggy when put in hot soup.
*Recent Inventions (Unmentionables): The spokesman for an elite unit at the Canadian defense department's headquarters told reporters in March that his office could soon develop the world's first "combat bra" that would combine the strength and durability needed for military operations while also being comfortable enough to wear for several days at a time if conditions warranted.
*Engineers at Imperial College in London, England, recently produced a blood-extracting robot that they believe is more accurate than humans at finding a vein and properly inserting a needle, according to an April New Scientist story. Human blood-drawers often act as if all arms and veins are the same, but Imperial's robots examine the skin, tissue and vein size with highly sensitive instruments. On the other hand, at Trinity University in Hartford, Connecticut, an April exhibition of stand-alone robots was for the most part impressive, according to a Knight-Ridder story, but included a number of robot firefighters that walked directly into the flames.
Human Rights Stretches
*In February legislatures in Maine and Arizona voted down proposals to prohibit discrimination against motorcyclists, but a similar effort continues in Pennsylvania. (Last year the Minnesota legislature passed an obscure provision in a finance bill barring antibiker discrimination by restaurants and bars.) And a legislative proposal in California pending from last year, the Open Waves Act, would guarantee that local surfers had no greater right to a wave than visiting surfers.
-- By Chuck Shepherd
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