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Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

Dec. 3, 2010
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‘Navel’ Officer Honored

Librarian Graham Barker, 45, of Perth, Australia, revealed to a reporter in October that his hobby of 26 years—harvesting his own navel lint daily, just before he showers—has now won acclaim in the Guinness Book of World Records. His three-jar collection (a fourth is in progress) has been sold to a museum. Barker’s pastime, he told London's Daily Mail in October, "costs nothing and takes almost no time or effort, so there is no compelling reason to stop." Barker, who has also collected McDonald's tray liners, said he once did a "navel lint survey" and found that "a handful of respondents" admitted to the hobby. "One guy might have persisted, but he got married and his wife ordered him to stop," Barker said.

Least Competent Criminals

Judgment-Challenged: (1) Tommy Riser of Blaine, Wash., had a rough Sept. 13. After a bout of drinking, he crashed his truck into a utility pole. A few minutes later, Riser crashed his wife's car into a guardrail while trying to drive away from the initial accident. Later, he retrieved his personal tow truck and drove it back to the scene, intending to tow the two crashed vehicles home. However, a sheriff's deputy was on hand and, noting that Riser was still tipsy, charged him with three separate DUIs. (2) In Harrisburg, Pa., Theodore Davenport Jr., 53, who was wanted for robbing the same PNC Bank branch twice in the previous month, was arrested in November when he approached a teller at that bank to inquire about the balance in his own account.

The Continuing Crisis

In September, a judge in Kent County, Mich., ordered Howard Veal, 44, to prison to serve at least two years for failure to pay child support. He is more than $500,000 behind in payments to 14 mothers for the 23 children he has fathered.

Real Estate Crisis

The investigative journalism website ProPublica.org, curious about the workers being hired in the mortgage industry's massive, rushed re-examination of home loans that previously had been foreclosed upon but which may have been processed illegally, began scouring the classified ads in October and November. Result: Though most employers "preferred" college graduates with credit-industry experience, it was clear from the entry-level wages that many workers were accepted only with high-school educations, with at least some barely familiar with the concept of mortgages. (One staffing agency, offering $10 to $12 an hour, sought a "Supervisor of Foreclosure Department," but that position also required only a high-school diploma.)


Incoming University of Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley told reporters in September about encountering one unexpected problem: staph infections caused by "the worst shower discipline of any team I've ever been around." He said he had recently run a clinic on "application of soap to the rag and making sure you hit all your body."

Latest Research

In July, researchers at the University of Manchester devised a mathematical formula for the perfect handshake. Psychology professor Geoffrey Beattie said that “up until now there has not been a guide showing people how they should shake hands.” Professor Beattie's work incorporates 12 key measures, including cool, dry palms, a firm squeeze (but not too strong), eye contact and the use of "approximately three shakes."

A News of the Weird Classic

In August 1991 in Bedford, Pa., District Judge Charles Guyer was charged with improperly favoring a defendant in his courtroom. Police said Guyer privately offered a lenient sentence to a 21-year-old man on the condition that the man would allow Guyer to shampoo his hair. The defendant reported the offer to authorities, and two undercover police officers, claiming to be friends of the defendant, allowed Guyer to wash their hair to gather evidence. (Guyer resigned in May 1992 after apologizing for his conduct and agreeing to forfeit his pension benefits.)

2010 Chuck Shepherd


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