News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Latest Diaper Research: Jill Furlough, age 31, of Lakenheath, England, told the London Daily Telegraph in April that she had been frightened by green sparks flying out of her one-year-old son Joshua's disposable diaper. Scientists contacted by the newspaper said it was triboluminescence, a buildup of energy similar to static electricity. And in April, Jupiter, Florida, firefighter John Bartlett began selling a gel whose fire-resistant properties he first noticed in disposable diapers he found intact in the midst of charred rubble. He sells all he can make, at $35 per gallon.

*An April Associated Press dispatch reported on Sierra Madre, California, garbage aficionado Kevin Inciyaki, age nine, who, according to his parents, has been into trash since he was two years old and whose family vacation snapshots always feature images of him inspecting local trash cans. He follows garbage trucks on their routes and has recently begun raising garbage-eating worms under the supervision of UCLA researcher Eugene Tseng, who apparently is a lot like Kevin, proclaiming that garbage is "one of the most fun things you can possibly imagine."

Another Argument Against Gun Control
*The latest person to shoot himself for perfectly understandable personal reasons: Henry Shepherd, age 27, Cambridgeshire, England, blasted off his knee with a shotgun in May to end the pain of a workplace injury. Said his brother Lee: "He told me ... he'd rather have a stump (than the pain). The knee injury was ruining his life."

Shoe Mania
*In May Marla Maples's former publicist Chuck Jones was convicted in New York City of burglarizing her apartment to get dozens of pairs of her shoes (with many of which he admitted to having a sexual relationship). And in March in Singapore, Zainal Mohamed Esa, age 43, was jailed for stealing women's shoes, which he would sniff (according to his lawyer) "until the smell runs out."

Government in Action
*In April Jay Monfort bowed to an imminent court ruling and took down the four-foot-high fence he had erected on his property to protect his office in the town of Fishkill, New York, from a nest of deadly timber rattlesnakes. According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the timber rattler is endangered, and Monfort's fence "blocked the snakes from their places to hunt, bask in the sun, and reproduce, and would probably cause them 'physiological stress.'"

*Another Endangered Species: According to a March London Daily Telegraph dispatch, the Brazilian government recently awarded a lone hermit tribesman a 96-square-kilometer personal preserve, off-limits to civilization, in the northwest part of the nation near the Bolivian border. Area loggers, ranchers, and farmers protested because of the impact on their livelihoods. A government team tracked down the hermit in August 1998 to let him know of the planned preserve, but he resisted and in fact fired an arrow at them.

*In 1997 a car belonging to Michel Emond, age 36, was confiscated by the Quebec government's automobile insurance board based on alleged overdue fines, but a mistake had been made, and the board agreed to reimburse Mr. Emond's expenses. Emond, however, tired of waiting for the check, and in March 1999 took advantage of a provision in Quebec law and filed a document that permitted him to seize the board's headquarters in Quebec City (valued at about $33 million U.S. dollars) until the debt was paid. The next day (thirteen months after agreeing to do so), the board paid up.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd