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Friday, Dec. 14, 2012

Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird

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Can Paintballs Save Us?

If an asteroid is ever on a collision course with Earth, it is feasible that the planet could be saved by firing paintballs at it, according to an MIT graduate student whose detailed plan won the 2012 Move an Asteroid Technical Paper Competition sponsored by the United Nations’ Space Generation Advisory Council. White paint powder, landing strategically on the asteroid, would initially bump it a bit, but would also facilitate the sun's photons bouncing off the solid white surface. Over a period of years, the bounce energy would divert the body even farther off course. The already identified asteroid Apophis, which measures 1,500 feet in diameter and is projected to approach Earth in 2029, would require five tons of paintball ammo.

                                

The Litigious Society

■ China's legal system apparently is growing to resemble America's. A well-covered (but incompletely sourced) story from Chinese media in October reported that Mr. Jian Feng won the equivalent of $120,000 in a lawsuit against his well-to-do wife for deceiving him and subsequently giving birth to what Feng thought was an ugly baby. Feng discovered that his wife had had cosmetic surgery and thus was not genetically the beauty that he married but, in reality, plain looking.

                                

Ironies

■ The government's Health Canada agency announced in October that Avmor Ltd. had agreed to recall one lot of its Antimicrobial Foaming Hand Soap because it was contaminated with microbes. (The recall did not disclose whether the danger was due to too many microbes overwhelming the soap or due to the inability of the antimicrobial soap to kill any microbes at all.)

■ Karma: (1) Tyller A. Myers, 19, was killed in a collision near Norwalk, Ohio, in September when he ran a stop sign and was rammed by a tractor-trailer. Afterward, police found three stolen stop signs in Myers' truck. (2) A 21-year-old man was killed crossing a highway at 5 a.m. in Athens, Ga., in September. Police said he had just dined-and-dashed out of a Waffle House restaurant and into the path of a pickup truck.

                                

Compelling Explanations

James White, 30, was arrested in Grove City, Fla., after being stopped by police patrolling a high-burglary neighborhood. In a consensual search of his pants, officers found a packet of Oxycodone pills for which White did not have a prescription. However, according to the police report, White suddenly exclaimed, "Oh, wait, these aren't my pants!"

        

Least Competent Criminals

Cunning Plans: (1) William Keltner, 52, was arrested in Abilene, Texas, in Nov. after he underestimated the security at a Walmart self-checkout line. He had taken the barcode off of a $1.17 item, placed it on a $228 TV set, and checked himself out, assuming no one would notice. (2) Kerri Ann Heffernan, 31, was charged in October in Massachusetts with robbing banks in Brockton and Whitman. Heffernan perhaps acquired a feeling of doom when, in the midst of one robbery, a teller-friend appeared and asked, "Are you here to make a deposit, Kerri?"

                                

Readers' Choice

Election Follies: Holly Solomon, 28, was arrested in Gilbert, Ariz., a few days after the election when, police said, she chased her husband with her Jeep SUV and rammed him during a drunken rant, blaming him for President Obama's victory (though Arizona's electoral votes went solidly for Mitt Romney). Daniel Solomon was hospitalized in critical condition.

        

©2012 CHUCK SHEPHERD