Chuck Shepherd's News of The Weird
■ The Super Bowl may be the “holy grail” for Las Vegas sports gambling, but outside the United States, horse racing, soccer and, surprisingly, pro tennis dominate. Tennis provides bettors with 19,000 matches a year (compared to 1,200 NBA games, 2,400 Major League Baseball games and fewer than 300 NFL games), with betting on 400,000 individual games and even on individual points, of which there are nearly 2.5 million, according to a January New York Times dispatch from Melbourne, Australia. In January’s Australian Open, a routine fourth-round women’s match between players ranked ninth and 28th in the world attracted more than $4 million in wagers—on just the first set.
■ Grrrrr! In Chedzoy, England, in February, the border collie spaniel Luce was "re-homed" after Royston Grimstead, 42, learned that she had chewed completely through a wheel arch on his $130,000 Aston Martin. Said Grimstead, “[S]he had this guilty look on her face.”
■ When a brand-new, exhaustively itemized medical coding system debuts in October, doctors will find, for example, dozens of separate numbers to describe dealings with a patient’s big toe (left one, right one, with or without nail damage, blisters, abrasions, critter bites, fractures, dislocations, sprains, amputation, etc.). Among the odder listed “origins of injury,” reported The New York Times in December, are codes for “burning water skis” and injuries incurred in opera houses, or while knitting, or as a manifestation of sibling rivalry. The current system has about 17,000 codes, but the new one totals 68,000 for diagnoses plus 87,000 for procedures.
Close Enough for Government Work
Clare Lally, weary of her three-flight front walk, demanded a wheelchair ramp on her government-subsidized house in Duntocher, England, for her daughter, 7, who has suffered from bulbar palsy since birth, and the West Dunbartonshire Council came through promptly. A front-yard-dominating concrete platform was built in January (costing the equivalent of $67,000), consisting of a 10-level “snake”-style series of ramps with steel railings. Not only does navigating the “snake” take time, but Lally now complains that the ramp has been taken over by neighborhood kids as a skateboard run.
Higher-Intellect Confrontations: (1) Following an evening of heavy drinking, according to police in Russia’s Sverdlovsk region in January, a former schoolteacher, 53, was charged with fatally stabbing his host, 67, during a dispute over whether poetry or prose is the more important literary form. (2) One Russian man shot another (nonfatally, with rubber bullets) in the town of Rostov-on-Don in September in an argument over theories of German philosopher Immanuel Kant. (3) Nadja Svenson, 22, was charged on Christmas Eve in Londonderry, N.H. (a night with clear skies, apparently), with stabbing her father in the chest during bickering over the position of the Big Dipper.
The first-ever skydive by Makenzie Wethington, 16, in Chickasha, Okla., in January was a catastrophe—a tangled parachute that opened “halfway” with the girl unable to reach the emergency chute. She fell into a spiraling free fall from 3,500 feet and landed with a thud, but somehow survived. Mackenzie had shattered vertebrae, a split-in-half pelvic bone, two broken ribs, tooth loss and various internal injuries. Said her sister Meagan, to incredulous doctors and nurses, “God’s hand caught her.”
An alcohol-hammered Troy Prockett, 37, was arrested in January near Hudson, Mass., after his car spun out of control on Interstate 290 and he fled on foot, pursued by state troopers who followed him to a tree, which he had climbed to about 30 feet up. Playing innocent, Prockett asked if the troopers had yet “caught the guy who was driving.” The driver was still loose, Prockett said, even though only one set of footprints led to the tree (but, Prockett explained, that was because the real driver was carrying him piggyback!). Finally, as firefighters were arriving to climb after him, Prockett (according to the troopers' report) “rambled on about being an owl.”
© 2014 CHUCK SHEPHERD