News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Six women filed a lawsuit in July in Birmingham, Alabama, in protest of the state's new ban on the sale of sex toys ("any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs"). According to an Associated Press report, four of the women say the law is a specific violation of their privacy because they had to describe themselves in the suit as "needing" sexual aids to achieve orgasm.

*Least competent magician: According to an Australian Broadcasting Commission report in June, Luke Dow was recuperating in a hospital in Mount Isa, Australia, and was considering a lawsuit against an unnamed magician as a result of a recent performance. Dow said he had volunteered from the audience to assist in two stunts. First, the magician was supposed to snatch a piece of paper out of Dow's hand with a whip but he missed, snapping Dow hard in the head. Dow nonetheless decided to do the second stunt, in which he would hold a balloon in his hand while the magician shot at it with his back turned, looking at a mirror. Dow was shot in the hand.

Doesn't Anyone Drive Sober Any More?
*In May in Colonial Beach, Virginia, Michael L. Long, age 46, was charged with DUI as he pulled up to Colonial Beach High School in a limo to pick up his passengers: students who had procured his services for the evening as a graduation-night designated driver. Two weeks later in Minneapolis, Curtis Clarin, age 56, was charged with DUI and failure to take a Breathalyzer test; for the past fifteen years Clarin has been employed by the Minneapolis Police Department to testify in jury trials about how Breathalyzers work.

News from the Disrespect Community
*In May professor John H. Lammers was fired by the University of Central Arkansas for making a snorting noise as he passed administrators with whom he had been feuding. In April, Li Sanhua was sentenced to twenty years in prison in Hubei province for shooting a hole in the Chinese flag. And in February, Jermaine Brown and his cousin Jonas Brown, both 21, were sentenced in Durham, North Carolina, to six months in jail for riddling a man's car with bullets because, said the prosecutor, he "looked at them funny."

Mixed News About Smoking
*In a study released in July by the London Institute of Psychiatry, a researcher concluded that, in the thirteen years of once-a-year nonsmoking workdays in England, the accident rate on those days always went up. On the other hand, the preliminary findings in July of a Boston University medical school study were that smoking could reduce the size of a man's erection.

Government in Action
*Purdy, Montana, banker Glen Garrett, age 66, said in March that he has spent about one million dollars in legal fees in six years to fight federal regulators who fined him $25,000 for doing business as his father had taught him: by handshake rather than with paperwork. In one paperless deal, Garrett hired himself to construct a bank building, much to the dismay of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation because there were no competitive bids. (An independent appraiser later said Garrett charged about $300,000 less than market value.)

Least Competent Criminal
*Karl Ray Johnson, age 23, was charged with disorderly conduct at a department store in Vallejo, California, in June. He fell from a crawlspace just above dressing rooms in which women were trying on swimsuits.

-- By Chuck Shepherd