News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*When farmers leave for the day, pigs start to party, say agricultural researchers in Reading, England, who were interviewed by the London Daily Telegraph in April. The pigs eat, drink, and roughhouse until about midnight before retiring for the evening, at least in buildings that are well-lit. Farmers now want to know if the gaiety has any effect on the production of bacon.

*In April the Kentucky legislature approved a bill to permit preachers to carry concealed weapons in church. Some ministers said they needed protection when transporting their offering-plate proceeds.

Toilet Technology
*Jacques Robaey, age 57, of Dunkirk, France, announced in December that he had begun to take orders for his "Ten plus" stand-alone restroom. The doors lock automatically when the toilet is used and will not unlock unless the user runs the tap for at least ten seconds. And in January, Warrenton, Montana, inventor Leonard Bruyere put on sale his $350 device that attaches to the side of a toilet and sucks out odors. He said, "Why the heck do people have to smell their own waste?"

Only in California
*A report issued by a California legislative committee in April called for changing the state law that allows motorists to legally use fictitious names on their driver's licenses. The provision was intended to help actors who have stage names.

Extracurricular Project
*A thirteen-year-old boy was convicted in April of trying to organize a prostitution ring among his middle-school classmates in Reston, Virginia. According to testimony, several boys paid ten to twenty dollars each for sex, although there was no evidence that sex actually occurred. A police officer said the leader told him he was a "pimp" and had made $75 so far, which he spent on Eddie Bauer T-shirts.

Names in the News
*The Toronto, Ontario, physician who was sued in March for a botched, painful penis-lengthening surgery is Dr. Robert Stubbs. And the Food and Drug Administration's spokesperson for the new anti-impotence pill Viagra is Janet Woodcock.

Recent Wisdom
*Montana District Judge Diane Barz commented last October on the recent trend of less notorious defendants in Billings to use the language and legal arguments of the Freemen jailed there: "[The Freemen] are contaminating our good criminals."

*Fraud suspect John Earl Petersen attempted to explain some of the charges against him to a Spokane Spokesman-Review reporter in September: "I wasn't involved, absolutely not. My name was used and my accounts were used. No, scratch that. That's a lie.... I'm involved in investment opportunities, real estate. Strike that, too. That's a lie. Just say I'm a businessman and have been since 1985."

*Steve Thompson, a wildlife biologist at Yosemite National Park, told the New York Times in November that the cause of 600 car break-ins by bears in 1997 was usually food left on the seat: "My problems start when the smarter bears and the dumber visitors intersect."

*Rev. Paul Donner of the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Paducah, Kentucky, described accused mass murderer Michael Carneal, age fourteen, in December: "I'm firmly convinced Michael Carneal is a Christian. He's a sinner, yes, but not an atheist."

-- By Chuck Shepherd

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chuck Shepherd