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Photo of group "nature sliding" from The National Archivess. The entire party is wearing tin trousers, the seats of which have been treated with paraffin.

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News of the Odd, May 2002

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Burglar Reintroduces Himself to the Law
 Louis Papakostas has been on the lam for fifteen years; his freedom might have lasted much longer, had he not introduced himself to the county prosecutor. In 1987, Papakostas was convicted of burglary. He fled before the sentencing hearing. Since then, he has served in the Greek Army and started a family. But then he moved back to Texas, and began working in a restaurant, where Mark Skurka, the attorney who prosecuted him all those years ago, was having lunch in May, 2002. Papakostas came out of the back, sat down next to him, and asked if Skurka was still a prosecutor. Less than a month later, he was sentenced to 8 years on the original burglary charge, and may still face charges for jumping bail. Bill May, Papakostas's attorney, says, "He thought that the case had just gone away."
(Corpus Christie Caller-Times, May 31, 2002)


Cab Driver Objects to Naked Blonde
A German cab driver called the police after his 30-year-old blonde fare threw her clothes out the window, crawled into the front seat, and asked him to have sex with her. The police traced his route, gathered up the woman's clothes, then ordered her to pay the full fare, and pay extra for the time the cab spent waiting for them to find her clothes. A spokesman for the Hamburg police said that the married 57-year-old cab driver did not want to press charges--"he was happy to get the fare and get the woman out of his cab. We took down her details but we will not be taking any further action."
(Ananova, May 31, 2002)


Teen's Friends Loot, Burn Home
Before he left for a Memorial Day vacation with his parents, a 15-year-old Michigan boy invited friends to play pool at the family's mansion in Farmington Hills. Word spread that the house was empty, and the party was on. By 3:00 Monday morning, most of the valuables in the house were gone, and the house was aflame. The family came home to find a smoldering pile of rubble where their home had once stood. "We suspect it was just a wild, alcohol-fueled free-for-all," said Police Chief William Dwyer. "Not all of the anywhere from 60-plus juveniles were involved in the looting of the home and the arson, but we are interviewing all of them." No charges will be filed against the teenager who lived in the house. "It's unfortunate that he made that decision, to allow friends to stay at the house, and they took it upon themselves to start this wild party," Dwyer said. No one was hurt in the fire. Neighbors claim they did not hear or see anything unusual.
(AZCentral*, May 31, 2002)


Croquet Brawl Puts One in Hospital
One man has been hospitalized with head injuries, and several others treated for head and arm injuries, after a croquet match at a public park in Calgary, Ontario turned vicious. The fight broke out between a group of croquet players and a group of softball players who had been watching them. A verbal argument escalated into a punching match, and "Then the baseball team gets ahold of some of the croquet mallets and everybody starts beating everybody," said Detective Dean Vegso of the Calgary Police Department. According to Don Short, a director of Croquet Canada, "The mallets are meant to hit balls on the grass, not people's heads. You're supposed to hit the ball through the wicket, as opposed to being wicked. It's very civilized." Police have not decided whether to press charges.
(Canada.com*, May 30, 2002) 


Squirrel Cracks Burglary Case
Police investigating a burglary in Twerton, Bath, England got a helping hand, from a grey squirrel. Responding to a call about a burgled garage, they arrested a 29-year-old suspect for the crime. When they returned to the garage to conduct a search, they found the squirrel sitting in front of the door. It ran off, but stopped and looked at the officers, then ran a little farther, and stopped and looked at them again. Realizing it must want them to follow it, they did. It led them to a tree about 100 yards from the garage, and they found the boxes of LPs and dishes that had been stolen from the garage behind it. "We apprehended a burglar and recovered stolen goods with the help of a squirrel," said a spokeswoman for the Avon and Somerset police department. She added that the squirrel received a handful of nuts as a reward.
(Ananova, May 30, 2002)


Model Corpse Under Parking Lot
Workers in Wootton Bassett, England were excavating a doctor's parking lot when they found a human leg bone. The police were called in to dig up the rest of the skeleton. They stopped, however, when they discovered wing-nuts, bolts and wire. Sue Thornton, practice manager at Tinker's Lane Surgery, said: "We were very worried for a few hours that a real body had been found. [I]t was very shocking. How on earth it came to be buried in the car park is a complete mystery." The surgery plans to restore the anatomical model and put it on display.
(Ananova, May 29, 2002)


Nudists Sponsored by Laundry Detergent
Nudists Bowling  When the British Naturist Petanque team goes to Amsterdam this summer, to compete in the International Naturist PГ©tanque Championships, they will wear hats, socks and sweatbands branded with the logo of Persil's new Aloe Vera washing powder. Thousands of naturists across Britain will also be offered free samples of the soap. Andrew Watson, Persil marketing manager, explains: "People might ask why a washing powder company is working with people who don't wear clothes. [H]owever, even naturists have washing machines. Our message is simple--for those occasions when you do have to put clothes next to your skin, make sure they are washed in new Persil Aloe Vera--it's our kindest powder."
(Ananova, May 29, 2002)


Skateboarder Goosed in Manitoba
13-year-old Shawn Hacking suffered two badly scraped knees, a sprained wrist, a ripped shirt and a facial bruise when a Canada goose misjudged its landing, hit him in the head and knocked him off his skateboard. His friend Brent Bruchanski said, "It was so funny, but I felt sorry for him at the same time. It flew out of nowhere and then... Wham bam!" The goose, apparently unfazed by the encounter, just kept flying. Shawn hobbled home. His mother was appalled by the extent of his injuries. "When he came in," she said, "he said, 'I got hit by a goose.' I thought that was some kind of car or something."
(AZCentral.com*, May 28, 2002) 


Duct Tape Prom Dress
 Lynsey Phuoc Le, a high school senior from Massachusetts, has spent weeks creating the perfect prom ensemble. Her dress, her purse, her corsage and necklace, and her date's tux and boutonniere are all made of red, white and blue duct tape. She started the project when she found a $2500 scholarship offered by Manco. "I was looking for scholarships on the Internet and came upon this one that sounded like more fun than writing an essay," she said. Le, whose family survived a harrowing refugee trip from Vietnam in 1990, chose the patriotic color scheme as a remembrance of September 11. She convinced a local hardware store to donate the tape. Ms. Le, who is her school's valedictorian, has already received a full scholarship to Brown University. "My parents want me to be a doctor," she says, "but I'm not sure. I just know I want to be a well-rounded person." She plans to supplement her pre-med coursework with classes in interior design.
(Worcester Telegram and Gazette*, May 28, 2002) 


Crazed Deer Crashes Parade
 The Memorial Day Parade in Mill Valley, California was interrupted by a maddened deer who barrelled through the crowed, crashed into a schoolteacher, and then took off into the hills. Lesley Stanford, a 52-year-old teacher, was knocked unconscious, and suffered bruised ribs, bruised kidneys and a black eye when the deer knocked her down. "I never saw it," she said. "I thought it was a bomb blast." The deer, an antlered buck, was apparently uninjured. Stanford is not looking forward to returning to work. "The kids are going to laugh at me forever," she said.
(Marin Journal, May 28, 2002)


Transylvanian Man Kills Dead Mother
Nicolae Mihut saw a cat jump over his dead mother's coffin, and saw her lips and cheeks were flushed with life. He called the local priest, who told him that his mother was a vampire. Mihut did what any loving son must in such a circumstance—he put a silver dagger through her heart. "We know from our ancestors that when a soul doesn't leave the body of a dead person somebody has to stab that person with a silver knife in the chest or the stomach," Mihut told the Romanian Romnet press agency. "When the knife pierced her heart we all heard a very long sigh and the body became rigid and very pale, unlike before. It was terrifying but we had to do it. We were told that if we didn't release her soul she would have come back to haunt us or to even kill us."
(Ananova, May 28, 2003) 


And He Does Windows, Too
Spidey Does Windows  "This window cleaned by your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man." Jon Balch, who owns Dorset Property Maintenance in New Milton, Hants, England was so inspired by the new Spider-Man movie that he has dressed his window cleaners as the masked wall-crawler. He says, "The customers just love it. And the phones are red-hot because now everyone wants Spider-Man! We even get clients insisting on posing for photographs with their window cleaners, which is certainly a first." Greg Weaver, one of Jon's workers, says "At first I thought it would be embarrassing--but we look dead cool! Sometimes I feel as if I don’t need the ladder." The new uniforms have surprised some customers, though. Judith Baker said, "I was shocked when I first saw Spider-Man climb over my conservatory and wave his squeegee at me."
(The Sun, May 27, 2002)


Oryx-Loving Lioness Vanishes
Lioness with Oryx  The Kenyan lioness who has made headlines world wide for adopting baby antelope has disappeared. She was separated from her fourth adopted antelope when the baby's mother took it back while the lioness was hunting, and she hasn't been seen since. Her first adopted antelope was eaten by a male lion, and the second had to be taken away from her because it was starving. The third left her of its own volition after a few days. Wardens have been searching for the lioness, nicknamed "The Blessed One," since she disappeared.
(The Sunday Nation, May 26, 2002)


Argument for a Holster
 23-year-old Corey O'Connor may think twice before trying to break up another argument. He might also consider buying a holster. O'Connor attempted to intervene in a fight between a woman and her boyfriend in the parking lot of Ernie's Tavern, in Toledo, Ohio. At some point, he reached for the gun he had stuck down the front of his pants. It went off. The bullet passed through his scrotum and embedded itself in his thigh. He was listed in serious condition at Medical College of Ohio Hospital.
(Toledo Blade, May 25, 2002) 


Warhol's Time Capsules Full of Treasure, Garbage
The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh has been opening Andy Warhol's time capsules--very, very carefully. "Opening a box is a real pain," said assistant archivist Matt Wrbican. "It could be another bug infestation. You don't know what's coming." The museum is attempting to catalogue the contents of more than 600 boxes, most dated and labeled "T.C." ("Time Capsule"), which contain the detritus of Warhol's New York Factory. Curators have found wax paper palettes given to Warhol by Salvador Dali, a paper bag marked with the words "Thank you, please come again" and containing a holographic rendering of the Last Supper, rancid pizza dough, a painting of Johnny Weismuller, a selection of miniature liquor bottles and ticket stubs labelled "Air France," Art Deco cigarette cases... Once the contents have been catalogued, they are either placed back in the boxes, removed for more careful preservation, or placed in an exhibition. One of the boxes is generally on display in the Warhol Study Center, next to Cecil, a stuffed Great Dane that once belonged to Warhol.
(The Toronto Star, May 24, 2002)


Guards Chase Rabbit as Prisoners Escape
31 inmates working in a prison garden in Uganda escaped when their guards ran after a rabbit. The bunny hopped out of the bushes, and all five guards took off chasing it. The prisoners seized the chance to flee. Lt. Col. John Baptiste Mulindwa, an army commander in the region where the incident occured, confirmed that it had happened, but refused to elaborate.
(Reuters*, May 24, 2002)


Willing, But More Confused Than Able
Zookeepers in Belgium are growing increasingly frustrated with Xenos the llama. Although the Antwerp Zoo has given him a female llama to mate with, Xenos tries to mount ponies, donkeys and even camels. He has not, thus far, attempted to mount the other llama. Part of the problem may be that Xenos was raised with a variety of other animals, but never saw another llama until he was an adult. His keeper says that Xenos's attempt to mate with the camels are particularly amusing. "The camels are much too high for him to mount. [He] nibbles at their feet until the camels lay on the ground."
(Ananova, May 24, 2002)


Coconuts More Dangerous Than Sharks
According to Florida shark expert George Burgess, 150 people each year die after being struck with falling coconuts. Only 10 are killed by sharks. "The reality," he says, "is that, on the list of potential dangers encountered in aquatic recreation, sharks are right at the bottom of the list."
(Ananova, May 24, 2002)


Italian Prostitute Arrested for Charging Too Little
In a bid to increase her business, Monica Isa cut her fees from 35 euros to 5. Now, she is in jail--not because her business is prostitution, but because the other prostitutes in Turin, Italy cannot compete with her prices. She is being charged with fraudulently lowering prices in a public trade market and unfair competition.
(Ananova, May 23, 2002)


Legless Robber Gets Limb Back
Four months ago, Sylvester Smith hopped away from O'Reilly Auto Parts in Kansas City, Missouri with $50 in cash. His prosthetic leg, he left behind; a mechanic trying to stop the robbery had yanked it off. Four months later, he is finally getting it back. The police held it as evidence after arresting him. He has pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery, tampering, and selling cocaine, and been ordered to attend a prison drug treatment program.
(Ananova, May 23, 2002)


Invisible Man Vanishes
A production of "The Invisible Man" had to be cancelled when the lights went out. Normally, the invisible man is swathed in bandages, to render him visible. But when the lights failed at the theatre in Oldham, England, the man, his bandages, and everything else on stage disappeared. The audience was offered a free drink, and the show went smoothly the following night.
(Reuters*, May 22, 2002) 


Drunk Driver Urinates on Police Car
Police in Munich arrested a drunk driver after he stopped his car, got out, staggered over to the officers' vehicle, and urinated on the hood. He was fined for both driving drunk and urinating on police property. He may also lose his driving priveleges for a month.
(Ananova, May 22, 2002)  


Naked, Deranged Driver In High-Speed Parking Lot Chase
Employees of the Food Lion Store in Mebane, North Carolina became suspicious of a man who had been driving in slow circles around their parking lot, pulling up to the front of the store, and then driving away again. Finally, they called the police, suspecting a possible robbery attempt. Officers chased the man's truck around the lot at speeds of up to 40 MPH before convincing him to stop and get out. That was when they realized he was naked, except for a torn t-shirt, and that his hands and mid-section were smeared with Vaseline from a jar he'd left in the truck, near a selection of paper and cloth towels and a pornographic magazine. He was charged with careless and reckless driving and resisting, obstructing and delaying a police officer; he could not be charged with indecent exposure unless there had been a female witness to the incident. “It’s the kind of thing that I’d rarely seen during my 15 years as a law enforcement officer,” said Captain T.E. Caldwell of the Mebane police. “And it’s definitely something that I haven’t seen recently.”
(Burlington Times-News, May 21, 2002)


Porn, I Mean Pop, Quiz
Richard Jowett, a math teacher at Marlborough College in Britain, is out on "sick leave" after mistakenly showing Internet pornography to a classroom full of students. The students were taking a practice exam, and Mr. Jowett thought he'd use the time to catch up on his... reading. He didn't realize that his laptop was still connected to the large monitor at the front of the classroom. There is no report on how the incident affected the students' scores.
(Ananova, May 21, 2002) 


Stop or I'll Laugh
Shoppers at a department store in Aucklaund, New Zealand thought they were watching a publicity stunt when a red-nosed, rainbow-wigged clown in giant floppy shoes ran by, shouting "Stop, thief!" Actually, they were witnessing the pursuit of a suspected shoplifter by a security guard, who was dressed as a clown for the store's annual "Day at the Circus" promotion. Despite the laughter of the crowd, the guard not only caught the young miscreant, but convinced him to take the situation seriously enough to come back to the store to talk to the police.
(Stuff*, May 21, 2002)  


Tattle-Tale Parrot Tells All
Wendy Abel, a sanctuary warden at the Gentle Shaw Bird of Prey and Animal Centre in Eccles, England, may never take her work home with her again, after a parrot named Oliver regaled the office with select phrases he'd heard in Wendy's room the night before. "Oh God Oh God," Oliver squawked, and "Bouncy-boo!" Wendy's partner, Neil Tatler, took the bird's revelations in stride. "It was certainly a passionate night," he said. "When I heard what had happened I thought it was hilarious."
(Ananova, May 19, 2002)


Bras Dangerous to Men
An article to be published in the August issue of the British Journal of Plastic Surgery says that removing a woman's bra may be hazardous to a man's health. The article cites the case of one young man who fractured a finger and damaged a ligament when he got his hand tangled in the straps of a woman's bra. According to surgeon Andrew Fleming, "It was a very nasty injury to the second knuckle down the finger. It was the type of thing that is more commonly associated with sport, particularly rock climbing." The article also states that 40% of men in their 30s and 40s have problems removing bras. In a recent test, it took one man 20 minutes to remove a woman's bra, although the average time was much lower--28 seconds, using both hands, or 58 seconds for a right-handed man using his left hand.
(Ananova, May 17, 2002)


Gardener Sues for Work
Rajendra Prasad lost his job with the Delhi Department of Horticulture 15 years ago. In 1996, he successfully sued for reinstatement, and was paid back wages for his time off work. But since then, he has been given nothing to do, although he has continued to draw a salary. Now he has sued for work, charging that the department has purposefully kept him idle to retaliate for his previous suit. "People need to be able to feel that they earn their salaries," he says. "My misfortune is that I can't because I have been forced to remain idle. It's as if one has been paid to cheat." The court has ordered the department to give Mr. Prasad something to do, and to begin an inquiry into the waste of government funds.
(Ananova, May 17, 2002) 


Woman Shot in Head by Non-Stick Pan
Kimberly Fennessey, of Bryan, Texas, was watching her friend Anthony Milazzo clean his .22 caliber pistol when she decided she'd like to test it. For reasons known only to Anthony, he suggested she test it on a Teflon-coated skillet. For reasons known only to Kimberly, she agreed. The bullet ricocheted off the pan and struck her above the right eye. Fortunately for her, it did not penetrate the skull, merely stuck in the skin. She was treated at the local hospital and released.
(Ananova, May 17, 2002) 


Panty Raider Returns As Victim Flees
A woman in North Platte, Nebraska was awakened by a man breaking into her trailer house. She fired a shot at him, and he ran out the back door. She went to a friend's house to call the police. When they arrived at her trailer, they discovered that the robber was just sneaking back out of the house, his pockets stuffed full of women's underwear. He has been charged with burglary and possession of cocaine.
(Ananova, May 16, 2002) 


Giraffe Receives Artificial Leg
Giraffe  Taiyo, a nine-month-old giraffe at Omoriyama Zoo in Akita, Japan is sporting a brand-new leg, made of bamboo with a rubber boot attached to prevent slipping. Taiyo broke his leg in March, when a zebra knocked him down. Vets put on a cast, but the tissue in the damaged leg began to die, and they were forced to amputate. Keepers tried several prototype legs before settling on the bamboo-and-rubber combination. They will replace it with larger models as Taiyo grows. He is recovering well from the 6-hour surgery.
(Ananova, May 16, 2002) 


You Are in Such Deep...
A young couple in Britain had to be rescued from a manure pit after a fight about the man's new car. Craig Aitken took his girlfriend, Louise Edwards, for a drive in his new Vauxhall Corsa, hoping to convince her that he hadn't been foolish to spend so much on the car. On their drive, though, he plunged the car into a slurry pit that he hadn't seen, since it was covered in grass. Louise took the opportunity to "have a go at him," then they climbed out onto the roof and called 999. Craig's phone battery died in the middle of the call, though, and the couple didn't know exactly where they were, so a helicopter had to be dispatched to search for them. John Hole, the farmer who owns the field, eventually dragged the car out of the pit with his tractor. He said: "I felt sorry for them because they were very embarrassed but we were all young once." Craig has sent the car out for a thorough cleaning. He says the experience has helped bring him and Louise closer together.
(Ananova, May 15, 2002) 


Berserker Cat Evicts Family
The first inkling a family in Nova Scotia had that something was amiss with their Siamese cat, Cocoa, was when she attacked the babysitter. Then she assaulted the father of the family, ripping through his pants and into the flesh underneath. The family fled, and called the police to deal with the maniacal feline. Armed with a blanket and a laundry basket, the cops subdued Cocoa, whom one of them described as "a Siamese with an attitude problem," and put her in a pet carrier to be taken to the vet. No word on what triggered Cocoa's rampage.
(Reuters*, May 14, 2002) 


Prostitutes to Give Up "Sinful" Oral Sex
A group of prostitutes in Romania have announced that they will stop practicing oral sex, after a trip to a church meeting provoked them to consider their sinful ways. "Even if we can't give up what we are doing at least we can try to be more religious and give up perversities," said one.
(Ananova, May 14, 2002) 


Burglar Foiled by Blackbelt
A would-be burglar in South Africa is in the hospital with a fractured skull after attempting to strangle a 45-year-old karate expert. Marietjie Fourie, who is planning to compete in the Shotokan Karate World Championships in 2003, attacked the man with a set of fighting sticks joined together with chains. She says it is the third time she has had to defend herself from someone who had broken into her home. South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of violent crime.
(Reuters*, May 14, 2002)


Bomb-Sniffing Bees at the Pentagon
Officials at the Pentagon, in Washington, DC, have successfully trained bees to sniff out explosives, rather than flowers. "It appears bees are at least as sensitive or more sensitive to odors than dogs," says Dr. Alan Rudolph, who is overseeing the operation. Only one bee in a hive needs to be trained; that bee will pass on its information to the rest, and within hours, the entire hive will know that finding explosives will be rewarded with sugar water. Officials admit that the plan suffers from a "giggle factor," which makes bees hard to take seriously, and that bees have limitations, such as not being able to work at night or in cold weather.
(Ananova, May 13, 2002) 


Deadbeat John Loses Finger
 Police in Edmonton, Canada are considering assault charges against a man who refused to pay a prostitute. They were called by neighbors who heard a man and a woman yelling, and witnessed the two fighting in and around a pickup truck. The woman, a young blonde, eventually pulled up her pants and ran into a nearby house. The man, whom witnesses said was bleeding from the hand, also fled. In the truck, police found blood, clumps of blonde hair, and a 3/4 inch piece of the man's finger, which the woman had apparently bitten off. When police found the woman, she said she was a prostitute, and that the fight broke out when the man refused to pay her. The man was easy enough to locate--the truck had his company's name and phone number on the door. "There's a lot of lessons here and they're all really apparent," said Wes Bellmore, spokesman for the Edmonton police.
(Reuters*, May 13, 2002) 


Burglar Leaves Pants, Driver's License at Scene
A 20-year-old man in Oregon has been charged with burglary after police found his driver's license at the scene of the crime. He broke into an apartment, then stripped off his clothes and snuck into the bedroom, where a woman and her boyfriend were sleeping. The woman heard him and screamed; her boyfriend chased him out. In the heat of the moment, he forgot to pick up his pants, which still had his wallet in the pocket. Police used his driver's license to track him down. "Thankfully it had his current address," said police spokesman Sergeant Scott McKee.
(Ananova, May 13, 2002) 


Wood Thief Crucifies Himself, Begs Forgiveness
A Romanian man who wants to be forgiven for stealing wood from the local forest sewed his lips shut, tied himself to a cross, and walked into the police station wearing nothing but his underpants and a barbed-wire crown. He was fined for disturbing the public order. Police are investigating the theft. A doctor treated his injuries. He has no known psychiatric problems.
(Ananova, May 9, 2002) 


Consumer Reports Learns Lesson On Safety
Consumer Reports, an advertisement-free publication with 4 million subscribers, which spends more than $20 million per year testing products for safety and utility, has had to recall 15,000 glovebox organizers it gave out as gifts to new subscribers. The organizers contained a flashlight which may overheat and start fires, and an inaccurate tire pressure gauge. The new issue contains an article titled "Caveat Emptor Hits Home," in which CEO Jim Guest admits that "We need to test any product that we offer as a premium in our own labs with the same rigor with which we rate the products you see in Consumer Reports." The flashlight and tire gauge both failed Consumer Reports tests, but those tests weren't run until after subscribers began complaining about the products.
(Reuters*, May 8, 2002) 


Man Reinvents Bear-Proof Armor
Troy Hurtubise has spent more than 1,600 hours trying to develop a bear-proof suit of armor. His last model, the Ursus Mark VI, was destroyed in an unmanned test versus a full-grown Kodiak that weighed more than 1,000 pounds. The Ursus Mark VII, though, is a wholly new design. Rather than being constructed of chain mail and plastic, it is made of steel, titanium and aluminum, with a built-in video screen, a cooling system, pressure- bearing titanium struts, advanced protective airbags, shock absorbers, fingered hands, swivel shoulders and built-in arms. Hortubise built it himself, in his basement, with an acetylene torch and a large quantity of scrap metal. He hopes the Ursus series will eventually contribute to the scientific study of bear behavior, by allowing researchers to get very close to bears without risking their safety.
(Canada.com*, May 6, 2002)  


Crematorium Cannibals Freed
Two crematorium workers accused of nibbling the fingers and toes of corpses brought in for cremation in Banteay Meanchey province, Cambodia, have been released by the provincial court, because Cambodia has no law against cannibalism.
(Reuters*, May 6, 2002) 


Barrel of Animal Semen Dumped Outside Chicago
Firefighters in Cook County, Illinois are at a loss to explain how a 250-liter barrel of animal semen ended up in the Arie Crown Woods near Countryside. "We get calls about illegal dumping all the time," said Cook County Forest Preserve Lieutenant Michael Albrecht, "but never anything like this." The barrel bore a hazardous materials label and the phone number of its owner, Iowa-based Swine Genetics. Swine Genetics, though, says farmers often reuse its barrels, which are stored in liquid nitrogen to keep semen at an optimum temperature, to transport other types of semen. Authorities believe the barrel contains goat semen (although they give no reason why). Swine Genetics deals only in pig semen.
(Ananova, May 2, 2002) 


Roborats to Search for Bombs, Corpses
Remote-controlled "roborats" may be the newest tool in bomb retrieval and rescue missions. The rats have tiny electrical probes inserted into their brains, which are connected to radio receivers strapped to their backs. Using a computer to transmit signals to the rats' brains, the rats' trainers can use its whiskers as reins. When the rats respond correctly, another electrode stimulates the rats' pleasure center. Because rats are small and agile, they can go into areas which would be unsafe for humans or even for rescue dogs. Outfitted with satellite positioning tags, the roborats could be steered into disaster zones to look for bodies, or trained to locate explosives. The scientist responsible for the experiment admits that there are ethical difficulties with controlling an animal's mind, but says that the rats live as long as their non-wired cousins, and only behave differently when wearing their special backpacks. "They're not zombies," he says. "They work with their instincts."
(Reuters*, May 2, 2002)


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