Your True Value

Jul. 2, 2008
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In May, the minor league Calgary Vipers, of the independent Golden Baseball League, traded pitcher John Odom to the Laredo Broncos of the independent United League. Originally, the trade was supposed to bring another player, but the Broncos’ player balked at leaving the United States for a Canadian team. The clubs huddled and announced that Odom would still report to Laredo, but instead of receiving another player in the exchange, Calgary would get 10 baseball bats.

In June, scientists at Switzerland’s University of Lausanne reported that, over the course of 30 to 40 generations, ordinary flies tend to live longer if they’re stupid. The researchers guessed that heightened neural activity overtaxed their life-support systems.

Cardiologists at Hartford (Conn.) Hospital, writing in the June Annals of Emergency Medicine, described a patient suffering from irregular heartbeat whose rhythm was restored to normal following a Tasering by police.

Animals Amok
While working on the “Wild China” TV series in June, BBC filmmakers announced that they had captured footage of pandas mating in the wild. A male panda is shown fighting off other males to coax a female down from a tree. What follows, according to BBC News, are “loud calls which will make viewers think instantly of the Wookiee character from the Star Wars movies.” Producer Gavin Maxwell added, “I liken it to Chewbaccas in a pub brawl.” Eventually, the female descended and the pair got to work, “breathing hard and panting,” Maxwell said. “You can see the steam coming out of their mouths.”

China’s Xinhua news agency reported in March that a farmer in Jilin province had taught a pet tortoise to smoke cigarettes. The farmer, a smoker himself, said he was surprised when the pet puffed on a cigarette he had playfully stuck in its mouth. Ever since then, the farmer said, he occasionally shares smokes with the tortoise.

Coaches Gone Wild
High school soccer coach Sanford Kaplan, 57, was arrested in Lincoln, Neb., in May and charged with imprisoning several underage boys in his garage, where they were bound, gagged and suspended from the rafters.

Fetishes on Parade
(1) “There’s really no way to explain people’s fetishes,” said University of Cincinnati campus police Capt. Karen Patterson, describing the arrest of Dwight Pannell, 43, for allegedly crawling under a library table, squirting liquid from a syringe on a female student’s shoe and photographing it. Pannell told police he was just trying out his new camera. (2) In February, police officer Michael Curtin, 36, was removed from the force in Munhall, Pa., and in April was charged with offering two underage girls $1,000 each to let him suck their toes.

Least Competent Criminals
Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) Sharon Platt allegedly stole about $5,000 from her employer, Murphy Motors of Williston, N.D., before leaving town. She was apprehended in Pittsburgh in May after she applied for a job and listed Murphy Motors as a reference. Her old employer immediately alerted Pittsburgh police. (2) Charles Ray Fuller, 21, was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, in April after he took a blank check belonging to his girlfriend and wrote it out to himself for $360 billion, which he presented to Chase Bank. After his arrest, Fuller assured police that the check was legitimate, saying that the girlfriend’s mother offered it to him to help start a record label.

New Zealand is taking steps to control the country’s emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas. In June, scientists mapped the genome that causes flatulence in ruminant animals. These animals cause more than half of New Zealand’s greenhouse-gas emissions through their flatulence (by comparison, livestock accounts for only 2% of U.S. greenhouse gases). The scientists believe they can cut down on the flatulence through a vaccination. Unless the vaccination is successful, farmers will face a huge tax on methane by 2012, as part of the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol.

News That Sounds Like a Joke
(1) When a big storm came through Alma, Ark., on the evening of May 7, residents rushed to the brand-new community shelter the town had just built amid great fanfare. However, as the winds raged, the 20 people who showed up had to sprawl on the ground for safety because the shelter was locked and the deputy with the key was busy on a call. (2) In January, Dr. Steve Paulk announced that he would offer breast augmentation procedures—and would be working out of Moundview Memorial Hospital in Friendship, Wis.

2008 Chuck Shepherd


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