News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In December nationally known Emory University business school professor Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, age 43, abruptly resigned, according to several news reports, because the university had recorded him on a surveillance tape vandalizing a wall. He was also suspected to have previously gouged doors, woodwork, and furniture in the building. Sonnenfeld had recently been passed over for the position of dean of the business school. Georgia Tech offered him a deanship but withdrew it after reports of the videotape emerged.

*Mayors out of control: In December former mayor Daniel F. Devlin, age 51, of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, defeated for re-election the month before, was charged with robbing a local bank of $1500 by claiming to have a bomb. Three days earlier Mayor Craig Johnson, age 41, of Snow Hill, Maryland, was arrested and charged with malfeasance for permitting one of the town's police cars to be used in pornographic photos that were disseminated on the Internet. According to police investigators, Johnson had also promised the pornographers access to a NASA facility on nearby Wallops Island, Virginia, but no photos from that site were found.

Can't Possibly Be True
*In August the Oregon Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Perry A. Lang, a white man, was entitled to worker compensation despite the fact that his on-the-job injury resulted from being punched in the face by a black co-worker whom Lang had just insulted racially. The court said a sensitive colleague is one of the "myriad risks" workers face. And in July the Hawaii Supreme Court upheld a law defining on-the-job illness as including stress caused by being disciplined for poor work.

Well Put
*The president of Poland's baseball industry association, in opposing a call for baseball bats to be made illegal because they are used in so many muggings, said, "No baseball player in Poland would use a bat for any purpose other than the game. The relationship between a baseball player and his bat is something sacred."

*George Shea of Nathan's Famous in Brooklyn, New York, acknowledged in July the continuing Japanese superiority in hot-dog eating contests, but pointed to American hopeful Joey Serrano of Philadelphia, who had just eaten seventeen in twelve minutes: "This kid has the excitement you see only in a young athlete who is just becoming aware of the miracles his body can perform."

*Awni Hasham, age 58, a furniture company owner in Gaza City, told the Washington Post in July why he takes seriously the rumors that Israel had produced chewing gum laced with hormones to make people so horny that Palestinian society would be disrupted: "If they can put a spaceship on Mars, they can make sex chewing gum."

*Serge Engambe, a previously unemployed college graduate who signed on with former Congolese military dictator Denis Sassou-Nguesso, explained in July why he accepted a militia job with an organization widely thought to butcher its enemies: "This is a unique chance in my life, in a country where young [college] graduates are not a priority of the government."

*New Porterville, California, mother Shellie Lee, age twenty, who claimed she was unaware she was pregnant, described the surprise birth of her son in July: "I was sitting [on a toilet] when all of a sudden a head came out. It slid right out and was hanging on my leg."

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd