News of the Weird

Nov. 4, 2010
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Almost Believable

Raymond Roberts, 25, was arrested in Manatee County, Fla., in September after an ordinary traffic stop turned up a strong smell of marijuana. At the behest of deputies, Roberts removed a baggie of marijuana from his buttocks. When the deputies saw another plastic bag right behind it—containing a white substance believed to be cocaine—Roberts said, "The weed is [mine]," but "the white stuff is not."

Least Competent Criminals

Overconfident: (1) As Xavier Ross, 19, passed by a piano at an art exhibit in front of a police station in Grand Rapids, Mich., in October, he could not resist sitting down to play a few notes. Officers, however, recognized Ross from a recent home invasion case, and arrested him. (2) Selma Elmore, 44, was arrested in Lockland, Ohio, in October when she flagged down a police car to ask if there was an arrest warrant out on her. Officers checked for a warrant. There was one—so Elmore decided to try to run away. The warrant was minor; "resisting arrest" was more serious. (3) Jason Williams, 38, was convicted in Maidenhead, England, in October of stealing a neighbor's window curtains, which he had immediately installed on his own windows—in plain view of the neighbor's windows.

Bright Ideas

British entrepreneur Howard James, who runs several online dating sites, opened another in August to worldwide attention (allegedly, there were thousands of sign-ups in the first five days): dates for ugly people. James said new members—accepted from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and Ireland—will have their photos vetted in order to keep out "attractive" people. (Based on the web pages available at press time, the photo-evaluation process was working well.)

Modern Mummies

In October, New York City artist Sally Davies offered the latest evidence of how today's fast-food meals are unappealing even to bacteria and maggots. Davies bought a McDonald's Happy Meal in April and has photographed it daily, periodically noting the lack of even the slightest sign of mold or decomposition. Her dog, who circled restlessly nearby for the first two days the food was out, has since ignored it. (Several bloggers, as well as filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, have made discoveries similar to Davies' findings.) Food scientists "credited" the use (though likely within FDA guidelines) of the preservative sodium propionate, the predominance of fat and the lack of moisture and nutrients—all of which contribute to shrinking and hardening the burger and fries.

Recurring Themes

Almost Impossible: (1) According to a case report announced in August in the New Zealand Medical Journal, yet another person has swallowed whole a standard-size toothbrush. A 15-year-old girl, running with the toothbrush in her mouth, tripped and fell, and her gag reflex did the rest. (2) Ms. Cha Sa-soon, 69, became a national hero in South Korea in May when she passed her driver's license written test on the 960th try. She had taken two-hour bus rides to the test center almost daily for three years. (It took her only 10 more tries to pass two different driving tests, and Hyundai gave her a new car as a reward.)

A News of the Weird Classic

Orange County (Calif.) Superior Court clerks discovered in fall 1989 that they had failed to complete the paperwork to make nearly 500 pre-1985 divorce judgments final, thus leaving the parties still legally married. The worst-case scenario for one husband occurred in April 1990 when an appeals court ruled that his supposedly ex-wife, Bonita Lynch, was entitled to one-fourth of his $2.2 million lottery jackpot. The couple had been scheduled for final divorce 11 days before the jackpot was announced.

2010 Chuck Shepherd


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