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Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird

Nov. 2, 2012
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Horsing Around

Equestrian show jumping has long been an Olympic sport. For the last 10 years, however, equestrians have been performing in "horseless" show jumping, in which human “riders” run through the courses on foot. According to an October report in The Wall Street Journal, an international association headed by retired pro equestrian Jessica Newman produces at least 15 shows a year. The shows feature between 40 and 130 competitors galloping over jumps that range from approximately 2 to 4 feet high. "Riders" are graded as if they were on horses (the event is timed, and points are deducted for contacting the rails). Explained Newman about the shows’ success: "It's just fun to be a horse."


Least Competent Criminals

(1) Todd Kettler, 37, was arrested in October in Kalamazoo Township, Mich., and charged with robbing a bank five days earlier in Southfield, Mich. The manager of a strip club in the township had noticed that Kettler was handing women money saturated with red dye, so he called the police. (2) Two men, ages 45 and 42, were arrested in Toronto in September after one of them walked into a neighborhood money-transfer store with $520,250 in duffel bags and attempted to wire that amount to an address in Los Angeles. Police charged them in connection with an ongoing money-laundering investigation.


Cultural Diversity

Some natives of Nepal believe that a victim can survive a cobra bite if he or she bites back, killing the snake (and thus, according to their belief, rendering harmless the snake’s venom). One farmer bitten in August in Biratnagar told BBC News that he went about his business normally after fatally biting his attacker. He survived after his family convinced him that perhaps the custom was ridiculous and hauled him to a hospital.


Whales in the News

In August, schoolboy Charlie Naysmith of Christchurch, England, taking a nature walk near Hengistbury Head beach, came upon a rocklike substance that turned out to be petrified whale vomit—which, to his surprise, proved to be worth somewhere between $16,000 and $64,000. "Ambergris," a waxy buildup from the intestines of a sperm whale, produces a foul odor but is valuable commercially for prolonging the scent of perfume. (Actually, after floating in the sun, on saltwater, for decades, the ambergris on the beach smelled sweet.)


Latest Religious Messages

A September religious festival in Nanchang, China, is a favorite of beggars, as visitors tend to be in a generous mood, but officials expressed concern this year about the increasing hordes of panhandlers. Thus, town officials ordered all festival beggars to be locked up in small cages (too tiny to allow standing) to minimize the hustling. Beggars were free to leave, but then had to stay away permanently. Most beggars chose to stay because they still earned more in festival cages than they would have elsewhere on the streets.



The Bronx, where nearly one-third of the population lives in poverty, is the poorest of the five New York City boroughs. Yet, among the city's most ambitious public works projects under construction is an 18-hole golf course in the Bronx's Ferry Point Park, estimated to cost the city $97 million, according to a September New York Times report. Furthermore, golf may be losing popularity. The Times reported that rounds of golf in New York City have dwindled from 890,000 on 12 municipal courses in 1966 to 561,000 on 13 courses in 2011. From the city's standpoint, it gets a course to be operated by a Donald Trump company and is hoping to build a waterfront esplanade adjacent to the course.


© 2012 Chuck Shepherd


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