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Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

Feb. 11, 2011
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What’s in a Name?

A perp wanted on an arrest warrant has a powerful incentive to lie about his or her true identity if stopped by police, and sometimes bluffing with a bogus name works. However, twice in January, in Dallas and in Great Falls, Mont., perps gave other names, only to learn that people with those names were in as much trouble as they were. Mario Miramontes, 22, wanted for parole violation, told an officer in Dallas that he was his cousin, without knowing that the cousin was wanted for sex abuse of a minor. Jonothan Gonsalez told police in Great Falls that he was Timothy Koop Jr., but Koop also was a wanted man.

Those Ingenious Western Spies

In January, Saudi officials detained a vulture that had been released from Tel Aviv University (the vulture was part of endangered-species research) and accused it of being a spy. Its Israeli handlers feared that the bird might face a gruesome execution as an espionage agent. In December, after an Egyptian woman was killed by a shark at a Red Sea resort, the local governor in Egypt accused Israel's spy agency, Mossad, of releasing "attack sharks" in order to stifle tourism.

Cultural Diversity

Every Dec. 24 in Sweden, at 3 p.m., between one-third and half of all Swedes sit down to watch the same traditional television program that has marked Christmas for the last 50 years: a lineup of historic Donald Duck cartoons. According to a December report on Slate.com, the show is firmly implanted in the national psyche because it was the first big holiday program when Swedes began to acquire television sets in 1959. Entire families still watch together, repeating their favorite lines.

Latest Cutting-Edge Research

(1) For an October publication, Georgia Tech scientists tested the "oscillatory shaking" they witnessed by wet mice and various-sized wet dogs as they shook off water—finding an inverse ratio between size and speed, from 27 cycles per second by a mouse to 5.8 by a mid-sized dog. One original hypothesis was that speed would decrease according to "torso radius," but that failed to factor in the length of the animals’ fur. (2) Israeli researchers, writing in the journal Fertility and Sterility, found that women undergoing in-vitro fertilization were almost twice as likely to conceive if they had been made to laugh by a hospital "clown" entertaining them as soon as their embryos were implanted.

Recurring Themes

(1) Which Branch Is Best? Dustin Jakes, 27, an Army soldier, was arrested for shooting former roommate David Provost, 24, a Navy sailor, in Florence, Ariz., on Christmas Day. Reportedly, they were arguing over which service was better. (2) Mark Richardson, 21, of Oklahoma City is the most recent con man to seek caregivers to attend to him intimately as he dresses in a diaper, feigns autism and claims to require constant care. Richardson's mother admitted to The Oklahoman newspaper that her son is "not your average, everyday, walking-the-street citizen."

A News of the Weird Classic

The epicenter of California's January 1994 "Northridge" earthquake was 5 miles from the United States’ then-largest egg farm, where hens had produced their usual 1 million eggs in the hours before the quake hit. The damage to the farm was a snapped water line, toppled empty egg pallets and a total of one broken egg. Said manager Robert Wagner to his employees, "We had a 6.6 earthquake that broke less eggs than you guys do when we're working."

2011 Chuck Shepherd


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