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6/1/2006

Columns > News of the Weird

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

 

Everybody poops

The National Health Service office in Dundee, Scotland, has recommended toilet techniques for the estimated one-third of the population that suffers from bowel and bladder dysfunction, according to an April report in The Times of London. The pamphlet, “Good Defecation Dynamics,” lists preferred breathing habits and describes the proper, upright, seated posture for effective elimination (“Keep your mouth open as you bulge and widen”), and encourages support for the feet, perhaps “a small footstool.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Earlier this year in separate incidents, two physical education teachers at Ernest Ward Middle School in Pensacola, Fla., were arrested and charged with bribery for allowing students to avoid gym classes by paying the teachers money. Tamara B. Tootle, 39, charged in April, allegedly gave students credits at $1 per student per class, and Terence Braxton, 28, arrested in February, pleaded guilty in May to a similar scheme and admitted to making at least $230.

A highly publicized attraction of the Isdaan restaurant in Gerona, Philippines, (according to a March Reuters dispatch) is its “wall of fury,” against which diners can vent frustrations by smashing things (with fees ranging from the equivalent of 30 cents for a plate up to $25 for an old TV set).

In July, according to BBC News, British farmer David Lucas will be forced by European Commission rules to give up his lucrative sideline of building gallows for Zimbabwe and other governments that still employ hangings. Lucas’ single gallows sells for the equivalent of $22,000, and the Multi-Hanging Execution System, mounted on a trailer, goes for about $185,000.

two hearts beat as one

In April, noted surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub and a team at Ormond Hospital in London re-started the original heart of a 12-year-old girl after it had been dormant for 10 years while she lived with a donated heart that had been inserted. Because the donated heart was finally showing signs of rejection, Dr. Yacoub decided that the original, which failed because of acute inflammation, might have repaired itself enough to work again.

trauma in the Workplace

In Miami, actress-dancer Alice Alyce, 29, sued the owners and managers of the musical Movin’ Out for $100 million in March after they fired her, allegedly because they believed her breasts are too large for her role. And schoolteacher Sue Storer, 48, filed a lawsuit against the government in Bristol, England, in March, asking the equivalent of $1.9 million for having fired her when she complained of, among other things, never getting a replacement for her classroom chair, which she said emitted a “farting” noise every time she sat down.

Princes among men

Arizona gubernatorial candidate Mike Harris donated $100,000 of his own money to his campaign in April, six months after successfully begging a judge to cut his $2,000-per-month child-support payments in half (and conceding that he had not disclosed that he owed his ex-wife $44,000 more from a property sale). Harris said even paying $1,000 a month was “pretty darn generous” of him.

In April, Michael Theleman, 45, finding true love hard to come by in the isolated town of Bray, Okla. (pop. 1,035), posted a yard sign offering to pay $1,000 for help in finding a “virgin” bride between the ages of 12 and 24. Offended neighbors convinced him to take it down, but he replaced it with another, stating that his future wife must not be “pig-worshipping, heathen (or) white supremacist.” He said he couldn’t understand the neighbors’ furor, recalling that his grandmother was married at 14 to “a much older man.”

It isn’t easy being rich

Women’s handbag designers, uncertain about the effect of Hurricane Katrina on Louisiana’s alligator habitats, spent the winter searching for new supplies, according to a March Wall Street Journal report. The fall gator harvest saw prices rise 50 percent from two years earlier, forcing Ralph Lauren, for example, to raise the price of its most prestigious alligator purse to $14,000, and hide prices were expected to rise another 50 percent this summer. (Alligator shoes, shirts and coats have soared in price, and the alligator-paneled piano sold by Giorgio’s of Palm Beach now costs $950,000.)

really cheap Thrills

Salt Lake City high school student Travis Williams was bitten by a baby rattlesnake in May, even though a companion had warned him to avoid it. Said Williams, “(E)ven though she told me not to … I picked it up anyway. I’m not too bright that way.” And Chesterton, Ind., high school student Michael Morris was hospitalized in May with a broken leg and arm after being run into by a friend driving an Acura at about 25 mph, but it was consensual. The friend described Morris as an adrenaline junkie who had had the friend run over him before, but Morris told the Times of Northwest Indiana, “I won’t do this no more.”

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