News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Practicing Up for Yugoslavia: In April an air force pilot training at the Warren Grove Bombing Range in New Jersey missed his target by a mile and a half, landing in a state forest preserve, and starting a fire that burned more than eighteen square miles.

Leading Economic Indicators
*The government of Hungary recently agreed to investigate massive scams in which 30,000 farmers paid their life savings (totaling about $42 million) for earthworms to breed under fanciful assurances that Western entrepreneurs would buy all the worms they could produce, according to an April London Daily Telegraph report. And in Malaysia, where men rely on snake-blood tonics as their own Viagra, the bounty on cobras is now about $35 each, compared with 75 cents in the 1970s, according to a February Times of London story. And in March, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, a 60-year-old man was assaulted by a woman after he made a derogatory comment to her while receiving fellatio, for which he had paid two dollars.

Low Unemployment in the Hit-Man Profession
*In October Brandon Lund, age sixteen, was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill his father because, according to the prosecutor, "He just didn't like the way [he] was running the household." And in March landlord Alvin Weiss, age 46, was sentenced to seven years in prison for hiring a hit man (unsuccessfully) to kill two of his tenants so he could release their apartments at higher rents. And in Lahore, Pakistan, in April, according to police, a 32-year-old woman was shot to death by a hit man hired by her father because she had shamed him by seeking a divorce from her husband.

Cliches Come to Life
*In March two professors reported that results of their identical polls on ethical questions, asked of graduate business students and then of inmates at three Midwestern prisons, yielded remarkably similar results. In fact inmates were judged more loyal to employers than were the MBAs. And the San Diego Union-Tribune reported in April that 25 business-ethics students at San Diego State University flunked the course, because they cheated on an exam.

*In March the Burlington Homes housing development near Bakersfield, California, rejected the application of attorney Timothy Liebaert and his wife for a five-bedroom home, citing the company's aversion to lawyers, which the company believes are quick to litigate and thus impose higher legal and administrative costs, which frustrates Burlington Homes' efforts to keep its prices down. Of course when informed of Burlington Homes' rejection of his application, Liebaert sued.

Well, Sure ...
*A 27-year-old man in Springfield, Illinois, called the local State Journal-Register newspaper in April to say he is the one police have been calling "Sock Man." He promised to stop his antics if editors would not print his name. Police say he approached two women and promised them $100 each if they would go home, get some of their socks, and leave them for him at designated points. One took him up on the offer, but he reneged on the payment. Police Lt. Carl Sprinkel said the man would not be charged: "It's no crime to be weird."

-- By Chuck Shepherd