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Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010

Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

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Southern Comfort

Alabama is the only state in the union that still has a ban on the sale of sex toys. Nevertheless, a shop called Pleasures in Huntsville, Ala., recently expanded to a former bank building in order to use three drive-thru windows to sell dildos (as a way to enhance customer privacy). Since state law prohibits the sale unless used for "bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial, or law enforcement purposes," customers must provide a brief written description of their medical or other "legitimate" condition in order to make the purchase.

 

The Weirdo-American Community

In November, at a burglary scene near Seneca, S.C., deputies said they found Noah Smith naked and allegedly drugged, with a string-like object protruding from his buttocks. Smith was X-rayed, revealing (according to the deputies' report, which made its way to the Internet) that the object in his rectum was a "mouse." However, several days later, the sheriff's office clarified that the object was a "computer mouse." Smith told emergency room personnel that he had no memory of the incident.

 

Armed and Clumsy

People who accidentally shot themselves recently: Daniel McDaniels, 31, in Sarasota, Fla., "trying to ward off a skunk" (October); Sanford Rothman, 63, in Boulder, Colo., while sleepwalking (October); reserve police officer Kenneth Shannon, 68, in Gary, Ind., in the hand while loading his gun—and the bullet went on to hit his partner (October); Sheriff's Deputy Miguel Rojas, in Crestview, Fla., in the leg while at firearms training (July); Darrel Elam, 52, in Peshastin, Wash., in the buttocks as he holstered his gun (August); a 48-year-old woman, in Clover, S.C., in the jaw while trying to kill a rat (September); a 25-year-old man, in Juneau, Alaska, in the head after jokingly telling friends that there is "one way" to find out whether a gun is loaded or not (October 2009).

 

Recurring Themes

Ironies: (1) The man caught in November in Brainerd, Minn., with a computer drive containing 75,000 pornographic videos, including child pornography, was Steven Augustinack, 52. One month earlier, the Brainerd Jaycees had named Augustinack “Citizen of the Year.” (2) In November, the man reported to police in Louisville, Ky., for "indecent exposure" for allegedly sitting in his car at a traffic light, masturbating in view of a woman in the next car, was Charles Lickteig II, 48, who is supervisor of a La Grange, Ky., correctional facility's sex-offender treatment program.

 

Cutting-Edge Science

  • Six-year-old Alexis McCarter, of Pelzer, S.C., underwent surgery earlier this month to remove the safety pin that she had stuck up her nose as a baby and which was lodged in her sinus cavity (having sprung open only after it was inside her, causing headaches, nosebleeds and ear infections).
  • Researcher Patricia Brennan of Yale University told a conference in July that a duck's penis may vary in length from year to year—depending on their competition. Duck penises mostly waste away after each mating season and then regrow; Brennan found that they regrow longer if there are other males around. (Female ducks are known to have corkscrew-shaped vaginas, and thus a centimeter or two can make a big difference for success in mating.)

 

News of the Entitled

Cell phones and GPS devices have led national-park visitors to do "stupid" things, confident that they will be saved from themselves, a Grand Teton National Park representative told The New York Times in August. Examples include a lost, cold hiker who called rangers to ask for hot chocolate and visitors flummoxed by cold weather who wanted a personal escort back to their campsite. In August, a party of hikers in Illinois called for (and received) three separate rescues in 24 hours.

 

2010 Chuck Shepherd