News Of the Weird

Jul. 8, 2010
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Health ‘Care’

Universal health insurance cannot come soon enough for uninsured Kathy Myers, 41, of Niles, Mich., who, suffering from an increasingly painful shoulder injury, has been continually turned away from emergency rooms because the condition is not considered to be life-threatening. In June, as a last resort, she took a gun and shot herself in the shoulder, hoping for a wound serious enough for ER treatment. Alas, she missed major arteries and bones and was again sent home, except with even more pain.

The Future of Sports

In the midst of World Cup fever, readers might have missed host Barbados’ win over Germany in June for the Woz Challenge Cup—an eight-team polo tournament with players on Segways instead of horses. The sport is said to have been created by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, whose Silicon Valley Aftershocks competed in Barbados (the Aftershocks last won the Cup in 2007). Wozniak told that his own polo skills are fading, but the San Jose Mercury News reported in May that Woz's fearlessness on the Segway hardly seems diminished. (The Mercury News report on the Aftershocks' local, nerd-populated league described the players as "the pudgy and the pale" and "geek chic.")

Foul-Mouthed Politicians

(1) At a public meeting of the Dixon, Calif., City Council in May, Councilman Michael Ceremello refused to yield the floor to a colleague, saying: "You don't have the floor. Please sit back and shut the (F-word) up." (2) Paul Gogarty, a member of Ireland's Parliament, during a public session last December, answering the criticism of an opponent, said: "With all due respect, (F-word) you, Deputy Stagg, (F-word) you."

The Aristocrats!

In the space of about 30 minutes on a June morning, according to a Dayton Daily News report, Brian Horst, 35, shoplifted several packages of meat and a jug of Mad Dog 20/20 wine from a store, rolled a stainless-steel tank of carbon dioxide on wheels away from a restaurant, and disabled an ATM by pounding it with a rock (after a bank camera allegedly recorded him in conversation with the screen, apparently trying to reason with the machine or possibly with an imaginary employee inside it).

The Continuing Crisis

Stories of great sportsmanship warm the public's heart—and then there is the flip side, as exhibited by Monrovia (Calif.) High School girls' track coach Mike Knowles. Knowles' team had just been defeated for first place in the last event of the April league championship meet. A pole vault by South Pasadena High School's Robin Laird gave her team the edge over Monrovia, 66-61. Knowles, however, noticed that Laird was wearing a string "friendship" bracelet, thus violating a national rule regarding jewelry in high-school athletics. He notified officials, who were forced to disqualify Laird and declare Monrovia the champion, 65-62. "This is my 30th year coaching track," Knowles said later. "I know a lot of rules and regulations."

Great Expectorations

The prominent Howrah bridge in Calcutta, India, has become a serious safety risk, according to a May report for the Calcutta PortTrust (which is in charge of caring for the bridge), because the steel hoods protecting the pillars holding up the bridge have been thinned by 50% in recent years. Engineers believe the corrosion has been caused almost entirely by the chemicals in gutkha, the popular chewing tobacco/herb concoction that is routinely spit onto the bridge by the 500,000 pedestrians who cross it every day.

A News of the Weird Classic

Tensions were brewing in the family of Zell Kravinsky and his wife, Emily, a psychiatrist, over what she believes to be his excessive altruism (according to an August 2003 profile in The New York Times). Kravinsky is not just a passionate philanthropist (from his fortune in commercial real estate), but also such a strict utilitarian that he says he would sacrifice his one good kidney (he's already donated the other one) if someone doing more social good than him needed it. "No one should have two kidneys," he says, "until everyone has one." He also said he cannot value his own kids more than anyone else's, a point that has angered his parents and caused Emily to threaten him with divorce.

2010 Chuck Shepherd


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