News of the Weird

Lead Story
*In separate incidents over a three-day period in July, three cousins in Shasta County in northern California lay down on or dove onto Highway 89 directly in front of approaching cars, apparently on purpose, resulting in the death of one and serious injuries to the other two. There was no evidence of suicidal intent; according to the Redding Record Searchlight newspaper, "Authorities are baffled ... and fear more members of the large family may partake in [this] odd behavior." Killed was Lance Wilson, age nineteen; injured were Mark Wilson, age twenty, and Lee Alex Gonzalez, age eighteen.

Milwaukee's Blood Sport
*In June in a department store parking lot in Milwaukee, Dawn Chapman, age 25, allegedly tried to run down a woman whom she had just accused of butting in line at a checkout counter. And in April Etharine Pettigrew, age 41, was arrested in that same city after running down a 27-year-old woman in another parking lot. The victim had been invited into the express checkout line by the cashier even though she had more than ten items, and Pettigrew took offense. Both victims required hospitalization.

You Can Imagine What the Biology Course Was
*In June the New York City Board of Education revoked the diplomas of 61 Brooklyn high school students (and began reviewing the records of 113 more). Principal Marcia Brevot had waved them through with full credit for "interdisciplinary" courses such as "Wiffleball theory" (physical education), "flower arranging" (botany), and "sports rotisserie leagues" (math).

Dog Heaven
*A May Associated Press dispatch reported that the "dog [owners'] culture" in New York City adds about $500 million to the city's economy every year. Included in that figure must have been money spent on the nineteen restaurants, featured in a July New York Times review, that serve dogs; dog psychics; a limo service for dogs; a workshop for dog actors; a mechanical automatic dog wash; and upscale canine couture that offers tuxedos, wedding dresses, kilts, blazers, and a teddy designed to hold a diaper.

Two More Cool Things You Can Say
*The Virginia Supreme Court ruled in February that the Virginia Tech student newspaper's labeling of a school administrator as "Director of Butt-Licking" did not amount to libel because the term could not be taken literally. And in May the Equal Opportunity Commission in Perth, Australia, rejected a claim of racial harassment by American Jon Debellis, age 41, who said co-workers had forced him into psychotherapy by constantly calling him "the fucking Yank."

Compelling Explanations
*In June Rob Sherman, prominent anti-religion media activist around Chicago (known as the Atheist Guy), was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery for allegedly punching his sixteen-year-old son. Sherman told reporters he was disciplining the boy for refusing to do his chores and merely wanted to "put the fear of God into him."

Least Competent Criminals
*Two men were arrested in Lynnwood, Washington, in July and charged with robbing a bank. The robbers were not much of a challenge for the police because they made their getaway in a motor home. They became ensnarled in typical noontime traffic several blocks from the bank and were overtaken by patrolmen on foot.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd