News of the Weird
*Dangerous minds: In the same week in September, Southwest Elementary School in Lexington, North Carolina, suspended a six-year-old boy for kissing a girl on the cheek ("sexual harassment"), and the New York Supreme Court disallowed the suspension of a fifteen-year-old boy who was carrying a loaded gun at a Bronx high school.
*On September 3, George S. Meadows, age 55, the principal of Sylvia Elementary School in Beckley, West Virginia, was suspended after being arrested for prostitution. (He was wearing a wig and was dressed as a woman at the time.) On September 4, Walter Conte, age 50, the principal of Charles Brush High School in Lyndhurst, Ohio, was arrested and charged with clandestinely videotaping sixteen cheerleaders as they changed into swimsuits for a party at his lakefront home.
Latest Religious Message
*The Lazarus Society in Cologne, Germany, recently released a Confession by Computer CD, with a menu of the 200 most frequent sins and a separate program to allow the particularly iniquitous to customize the sins they confess. Appropriate penances are prescribed, and a link to priests via the Internet is provided. And in June, Rev. David E. Courter of the Independent Catholic Church International told an Associated Press reporter he would soon celebrate mass online and allow people to take communion via computer by placing unleavened bread in front of their monitors.
Well, What Did They Expect?
*At a preliminary hearing in July in Guthrie, Oklahoma, a woman said Jimmy Don Branun assaulted her in his mobile home and then changed into black pantyhose, a garter belt, women's underpants, a training bra, and white high-heeled shoes. The victim ran out the door and escaped because Branun, tottering in his high heels, was not able to keep up with her.
*In August at the Loyal, Wisconsin, Corn Fest, Steven Schiller, age 24, and Kevin Froba, age 25, won prizes at the familiar strength game in which a contestant slams a mallet onto a device that causes a weight to ascend and ring a bell. They later complained to the game operator about the quality of their prizes, and an altercation ensued. Schiller and Froba were hospitalized after the guy hit each of them in the head with the mallet.
*In May Karen Watson, age twenty, gave birth to a baby boy in Albany, Oregon, which she said took her completely by surprise, though she said she had been suffering from anemia. Of course, this was not the first case of a woman's unexpectedly giving birth, but Watson is a pre-med biology major at the University of California, Davis, with plans to go into family practice.
*In May an unidentified copilot on a Danish Maersk airlines flight from Birmingham, England, to Milan, Italy, with 49 passengers aboard had an anxiety attack over France because he was afraid of heights. He later resigned.
Thinning the Herd
*In September a man was crushed to death on a stairway at the Sammis real estate and insurance office in Huntington, New York, in the process of stealing the office's 600-pound safe; he apparently violated the cardinal rule of stairway safe-hauling by standing on a step lower than the one the safe was on. (It turned out the safe was empty.) And in Tucson, Arizona, a man intending to commit suicide in September is still alive. He turned on the gas in his trailer home and sat down to depart in peace, but then decided to smoke a last cigarette. An explosion followed; he was hospitalized with first- and second-degree burns.
-- By Chuck Shepherd