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Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011

Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

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DMV Danger

In July, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office in Roseville, Calif., was closed for a week after a driving school student crashed into the building and left a 4-foot-by-5-foot hole in the wall. In August in Brisbane, Australia, a young man taking a test at a drivers' center lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a bench outside the building, hitting his mother, who was waiting for him. And in July in Williamsburg, Va., a 56-year-old DMV driving tester was killed when the woman she was evaluating ran off the road and struck a tree.

Least Competent Criminals


One would think the robber of a gas station would consider filling the tank before fleeing. However, Moses Gist, 47, was arrested in September in Winston-Salem, N.C., and later charged with robbing the Huff Shell station after running out of gas a short distance away. And in Winder, Ga., Micah Mitchell was arrested in October shortly after, according to police, he crashed through the front door of a BP station to steal merchandise. Minutes later, he was apprehended a few miles from the station, where he had run out of gas.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit!

  • Death is a big business in Japan, where in 2010 1.2 million people passed away, overtaxing the country's cemeteries and crematoriums. With an average wait for disposal of at least several days, and space running short in funeral homes, "corpse hotels" have opened in many cities. The hotels feature climate-controlled "guest rooms" renting for the equivalent of about $155 a night, with viewing rooms where relatives can visit the bodies daily until cremation is available.
  • According to reporting by The Wall Street Journal (July) and the website Singularity Hub (August), entrepreneur Ailin Graef's Anshe Chung Studios is worth "millions" of real U.S. dollars, earned mostly by managing rentals of make-believe real estate and brokering make-believe money transactions in the game Second Life. Graef also commands top (real) dollar for her designs of make-believe fashions for players' game characters (avatars). Two other companies are battling each other in federal court in San Francisco over the copyright to their lucrative business models of creating make-believe animals (horses, rabbits) that sell very well to players who take them on as game pets for their characters or breed them to make other make-believe animals.


Weird Science


In an art-science collaboration in August, Dutch artist Jalila Essaidi and Utah State researcher Randy Lewis produced a prototype bulletproof skin—or at least skin that would limit a .22-caliber bullet to only about 2 inches' penetration into a simulated human body. Genetically engineered spider silk (reputed to be five times stronger than steel) was grafted between layers of dermis and epidermis. Mused Essaidi, we "in the near future [may] no longer need to descend from a godly bloodline in order to have traits like invulnerability…"

A News of the Weird Classic


In April 1994, defendant Arthur Hollingsworth, despite previous recalcitrance, for some reason agreed to waive his constitutional right of silence and testify on his own behalf in his trial for armed robbery of a Houston convenience store. Prosecutor Jay Hileman first got Hollingsworth to admit that he was in the store at the time it was robbed and that he was armed. Then Hileman asked, "Mr. Hollingsworth, you're guilty, aren't you?" Hollingsworth replied, "No." Hileman repeated the question: "Mr. Hollingsworth, you're guilty, aren't you?" Hollingsworth: "Yeah." Hileman said he had no further questions.

© 2011 Chuck Shepherd