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8/10/2006

Columns > News of the Weird

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

 

New York state of mind

New York state Sen. Ada Smith, known to some as the “Wild Woman of Albany” for her temper, pleaded not guilty in April for yet another alleged outburst. (She was accused of assaulting a staff member with hot coffee after a comment about her weight.) According to Senate officials cited by the New York Daily News, more than 200 of her staff members over the years have either quit or been fired. Besides Smith’s previous run-ins with Albany police, New York City police and United Airlines, other former employees have claimed that she assaulted them (the latest said Smith threw a phone at her). Smith has denied virtually every accusation, but her exasperated party leader has stripped her of seniority privileges.

Puddle-drunk

In July, Cory Neddermeyer, 42, was turned down for unemployment benefits in Iowa, after a judge ruled that he was fired for cause. His employer, the Amaizing Energy ethanol plant, suffered a massive spill that created a pond of fuel alcohol, and Neddermeyer (a recovering alcoholic), after resisting as long as he could, gave in and started drinking from the pool (causing him to pass out and later register an 0.72 blood-alcohol reading).

Herring aid

In 2004 News of the Weird reported research suggesting that herring routinely communicate among themselves via a high-pitched, “raspberry”-like sound emitted from the anus. In June 2006, a researcher at Greenland Institute of Natural Resources said that herring appear also to use anal bubbles as a defense to obscure themselves from killer whales. (Researchers are not agreed on whether it is digestive gases or some other mechanism that produces the bubbles.)

Not ready for prime time

Lawrence C. Lawson, 60, was charged with robbing the Lasalle Bank in Troy, Mich., in July, which was an easy collar because, as he emerged from the bank with his loot, he spotted a passing police car and promptly fainted.

Pierre Barton, 20, was arrested in Cleveland following the robbery of Georgio’s Pizza, shortly after he had accidentally dropped his two “cheat sheet” cards containing his robbery speech (reading “Give me the money” and “Tell I’ll kill your family [sic]”). In fact, Barton apparently was a poor ad-libber: Although his makeshift “gun” had come apart and was lying on the floor, he still threatened to shoot the manager as he was fleeing.

Politics as usual

In June, when Cook County, Ill., elections supervisor David Orr questioned the ethics of the family of Cook County Board president John Stroger (whose illness forced him to resign, but not until the family delayed long enough to discourage potential successors, so that Stroger’s son would have a better chance of winning the vacated post), a Stroger ally called Orr a “little poop butt.”

California Assembly candidate Bill Conrad admitted in May that he wrote the flier proclaiming that his party primary opponent, Tom Berryhill, “doesn’t have the HEART [emphasis in the original] for State Assembly” because Berryhill had a heart transplant six years ago and that “the average lifespan of a heart transplant recipient is seven years.” (Berryhill won easily.)

David Spellman was sworn in as mayor of Black Hawk, Colo., on July 12, a week after pleading guilty to two charges for pistol-whipping his wife with a handgun in 2005 (and firing three shots).

And self-described “pro-traditional family” candidate Jim Galley lost a two-man June congressional primary in San Diego, with no help from the San Diego Union Tribune’s discovery, a week before the voting, that he had had child-support payments garnished from his paycheck for four years and was once, for a 17-month period, simultaneously married to two women.

The story of ouch

No. 1: “$5 Million Awarded to Couple for Loss of Vagina” (a May report on Chicago’s WMAQ-TV website about a hysterectomy gone bad, leading to “scar tissue and foreshortening” of the vagina).

No. 2: “Officers Honored for Finding Man’s Penis” (a story on the Kansas City Star’s Crime Scene KC weblog about departmental recognition for seven police officers who searched a field and a yard looking for a man’s severed, discarded penis, and then rushed it to a hospital to be reattached).

Social climbers

Texas farmers about 75 miles from the Mexican border near Falfurrias have taken to installing ladders on their property to allow illegal aliens to climb over their fences in the course of trespassing so they’ll stop making holes in the fences (which allow the farmers’ cattle to escape). According to a June Associated Press report, the ladders aren’t used very much, apparently because the illegal immigrants assume there’s some catch.

 

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