News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*In April DSC Communications of Plano, Texas, filed a lawsuit against ex-employee Evan Brown to force him to surrender a thought. DSC had fired Brown for allegedly not honoring a contract that it says gives the company the right to know any idea Brown had for ten years. Brown says he had an idea for upgrading an old computer code to a higher level, which could be worth millions of dollars, but he hasn't written it down and refuses to divulge it. In June a federal judge ordered Brown to disgorge the idea and give it to DSC.

*The Times of London reported in July about an 86-year-old woman who had lived without electricity in her Sheffield, England, home for twenty years because she thought a power failure in 1977 meant she had been dropped as a customer. It turns out that Yorkshire Electric Co. had accidentally failed to hook her back up. Neighbors thought the woman preferred to live by candlelight.

*A Washington Post report in March about prison corruption in Mexico revealed that drug traffickers supposedly under maximum security actually have "spacious rooms, cooks and maids, cellular phones, a gymnasium, a sauna, and manicured gardens where they host barbecues," among other things. And in May the New York Times revealed that a federal jail in Brooklyn has been run as a "Mafia social club," where family business "sit-downs" featured smuggled-in meatballs, manicotti, vodka, and wine. And in May imprisoned Gangster Disciple leader Larry Hoover was convicted in Chicago of running a vast prison drug operation. He gave orders by cellular phone while wearing $400 alligator boots.

The Continuing Crisis
*Maria Soto, age 42, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was charged in April with practicing dentistry without a license, based on a complaint from a patient who was referred to her because she was "cheap." According to the complaint, Soto extracted the wrong tooth from the man; on yet another visit she said a tooth was too big for his mouth, removed it, filed it down, and put it back in with glue.

*Student Jaimie Rising of Indiana University of Pennsylvania filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in March against Prof. Gordon Thornton for his behavior in his psychology of death course. According to the lawsuit, Thornton asked in class if anyone had ever kissed a dead person. Rising said she had kissed her father when he died, an action that Thornton called "disgusting and gross." Thornton allegedly continued, asking Rising if she had "stuck her tongue down her father's throat."

*In May 1996 Marvin Bright was shot dead, reportedly by a co-worker near Nashville, Tennessee. Since then five women have filed wrongful-death lawsuits against the alleged assailant, claiming they are the mothers of one each of Bright's five children. And in June, Glynn "Scotty" Wolfe, age 88, reported to be the world's most-often-married man, passed away in Redlands, California, but none of his 29 former wives claimed the body. Two weeks later his son did.

*In May a University of Maryland entomologist warned that people should not wear dog flea collars to ward off bugs, noting that humans are far more sensitive to the ingredients than dogs are. And also in May, a doctor in Dublin, Ireland, wrote in a British Medical Association journal about a golfer who developed hepatitis from the defoliant used by his golf course because he had a habit of licking the ball for good luck before each drive.

*In May the business school at the University of California at Berkeley appointed Ikujiro Nonaka to an endowed position (sponsored by one million dollars from Xerox Corp. and its Japanese affiliate) as Distinguished Professor of Knowledge.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd