NEWS OF THE WEIRD
In case your holidays weren't strange enough, here's an extra-large helping of…
December 31, 2009
A 55-year-old British man whose bowel was ruptured in a nearly catastrophic traffic accident has been fitted with an artificial sphincter that opens and closes with a remote controller. Ged Galvin had originally endured 13 surgeries in a 13-week hospital stay and had grown frustrated with using a colostomy bag until surgeon Norman Williams of the Royal London Hospital proposed the imaginative operation. Dr. Williams, who was interviewed along with Galvin for a November feature in London's Daily Mail, wrapped a muscle transplanted from Galvin's leg around the sphincter and attached electrodes to tighten or loosen the muscle's grip.
The Wisconsin Department of Corrections decided in October that it (i.e., taxpayers) should fund complex facial reconstruction surgery for inmate Daryl Strenke, who is serving 30 years after pleading guilty to murdering his girlfriend. Strenke had shot himself in the face in apparent remorse for the killing, severely disfiguring his mouth and jaw and making it nearly impossible for him to eat or speak normally.
WHATEVER YOU'VE GOTTA TELL YOURSELF, DUDE
The inspector general of the National Science Foundation revealed that on-the-job viewing of pornography Web sites was so widespread at the agency that the resultant ethics investigations hindered his primary mission of investigating fraud on grant contracts. The agency report, obtained by the Washington Times in September, said the heaviest user was a senior executive who logged on to pornography at least 331 days in 2008. He subsequently retired, but before leaving defended his habit, claiming that his Web site visits actually helped impoverished women in Third World countries to earn a decent living (by posing for pornography).
(1) In November, the Solihull Council in Britain's West Midlands county ordered a flooring store to remove the festive balloons it had pinned out front to attract business, calling them hazards. One councilor explained that drivers may be distracted by the colors, and another was concerned that if a balloon came loose, it might possibly float into traffic and lure a child to follow it. (2) In October, Britain's Association of Chief Police Officers prepared a guidebook of instructions for bicycle-duty officers on how to ride a bike. The book was 93 pages long, containing such assistance as a diagram on how to turn left or right ("deployment into a junction"). Following widespread ridicule, the association decided in November not to release it. (3) Examiners from Britain's Health and Safety Executive, inspecting bowling alleys for hazards, considered recommendations (according to a November Daily Mail report) that included erecting barriers over the lanes to prevent bowlers from wandering the alleys and perhaps getting caught in pin-setting machines or, feared one inspector, bowlers injuring themselves trying to knock over pins by hand. The barriers would leave space for the ball to roll under.
Wake Forest University's Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which has successfully grown human bladders in the lab using only a few extracted cells sprayed onto a chemical frame that mimics the body's tissues, has so far been unsuccessful at regenerating penises because of the organ's complexity. However, it announced in a November journal article a success with rabbit penises. Four of the 12 rabbits with lab-grown phalluses successfully impregnated females, and in an unexpected finding, the new penises appear not to lessen sexual desire, in that all 12 of the rabbits began mating within one minute of meeting females.
NO WONDER WE CAN NEVER FIND OUR CAR KEYS
Occasionally, people lose their short-term memory following vigorous sex, according to doctors interviewed for a November CNN report on "transient global amnesia." The condition occurs because blood flow to the brain is restricted by the strenuous activity, temporarily disabling the hippocampus from recording new memory. One sufferer, "Alice," recalled her experience, recounting how she initially cracked a joke about being unable to remember how good the sex was that she just had, and then supposedly repeated the joke over and over, each time as if she had just thought of it.
PEOPLE ARE STUPID, PART 4,326
(1) Three men were convicted in August in Kansas City, Mo., of having convinced "numerous" customers to buy 3-inch-by-4-inch laminated "diplomat" cards that, promoters said, would legally free them from ever having to pay taxes or being arrested for any crime. According to the FBI, customers ponied up fees ranging from $450 to $2,000 to get the cards. (2) Dr. Yehu Azaz, a wealthy, respected physician, gave up his career in 1991 and gave away all of his possessions, coming under the spell of guru Rena Denton's spiritual healing center in Somerset, England. In a 2009 lawsuit to recover his wealth, Azaz said that despite being an educated professional, he did not realize what he had done until 2003 because he had been brainwashed ("unduly influenced") by the aged guru. (A judge tossed out his lawsuit in July.)
(1) After six years of total obstinacy, Janet and Lowell Carlson finally agreed in October to upgrade their farm's septic system in Camden Township, Minn. Until then, the couple had ignored numerous inspections, sheriff's visits and court orders even though a new system had already been paid for (by escrow funds left by the owner who sold them the farm). The Carlsons' inspiring principle throughout the six years of living with failed plumbing was to challenge the county for its "inconsistent" enforcement of septic upgrades. (2) Scottish pig farmer Peter Roy, 72, is embroiled in a long-standing dispute with the Perth and Kinross Council over who has the responsibility for repairing the sewage system on his farm in Craigmuir, but has taken a more hardcore approach than the Carlsons. He has saved his sewage in oil barrels stored on his property (now numbering about 80) to the outrage of neighbors. Roy has also periodically stepped up his protests to include leaving full barrels around town.
(1) Brier Cutlip, 22, and Paul Bragg, 25, who were on parole and prohibited from possessing firearms, were re-arrested in December in Elkins, W. Va., when they showed up for a parole appointment. However, they had just come in from a day of hunting and were still wearing orange vests, alerting the parole officer to the fact that they had been firing guns all day. (2) Grandville Lindsey, 30, on probation in Beaumont, Texas, after a child-sex conviction and prohibited from visiting any "social" Web sites, was re-arrested in November when he sent a Twitter alert to a woman he had met while in the probation office, asking to include her as an online "friend."
AS IF THOSE GUYS NEED MORE ENCOURAGEMENT
British Museum officials announced in September that the hoard of 7th-century Anglo-Saxon gold and silver treasure discovered on land in Staffordshire (at least 1,500 pieces, including crosses and parts of helmets and daggers) would take a year to evaluate fully but could be worth "many times" the 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) archaeologists initially estimated. The treasure was discovered by an unemployed 55-year-old man using one of the widely ridiculed, hand-held metal detectors that beachcombers favor to recover loose coins in the sand.
EVER HEARD OF A BROOM?
According to a November Chicago Sun-Times report, county officials in Chicago have agreed to pay a $14,000 injury claim to janitor Mary Tait, of the sheriff's department. The amount covers two incidents, in 1997 and 1998, in which she hurt her back in the same way—while "reaching around to pick up a piece of toilet paper."
Chuck Shepherd, MauiTime
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