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Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013

Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird

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Roach Motel

At age 20, Kyle Kandilian of Dearborn, Mich., has created a start-up business to fund his college expenses, but it involves a roomful (in the family home) of nearly 200,000 cockroaches. The environmental science major at University of Michigan-Dearborn breeds species ranging from the familiar household pests, which he sells on the cheap as food for other people’s pets, to the more interesting, exotic Madagascar hissing roaches and rhino roaches, which can live for 10 to 15 years. (Kandilian told the Detroit Free Press in July that of the 4,000 cockroach species, only about a dozen are pests.) Why not choose a more conventional “pet”? Because “(m)ammals smell,” he said. (Missing from the Free Press story: details on the likely interesting initial conversation between Kyle and his mother when he asked if he could have 200,000 cockroaches in the house.)

Can’t Possibly Be True

  • The intersection of West Gateway Boulevard and North Congress Avenue in Boynton Beach, Fla., is six lanes wide, busy even at 11 p.m. on Sunday night, as it was at that time in July when a 2-year-old girl darted across, a combination of good fortune and sometimes-rare Florida driver alertness allowing her safe arrival on the other side without a scratch. “It’s a miracle,” said Harry Scott, who witnessed it. “I’m telling you the truth.” Mom Kayla Campbell, 26, was charged with felony neglect, as she appeared “oblivious,” said police, to the child’s absence from home.
  • An unnamed restaurateur from Nagoya, Japan, has filed a lawsuit against an affiliate of the country’s largest organized crime syndicate, Yamaguchi-gumi, demanding a refund of “protection” money she had been paying for more than 12 years (in total, the equivalent of about $170,000). The affiliate, Kodo-kai, burned down a bar in 2010, killing people, in a similar protection arrangement that went bad, and the plaintiff said she, too, was threatened with arson when she decided to stop paying. According to an expert on Japanese “yakuza,” a relative of one of the victims of the 2010 fire may also sue Kodo-kai.

Unclear on the Concept

At Atherstone, England’s, Twycross Zoo, a program is underway to try to teach quarter-ton giant tortoises to speed up. An extended outdoor pen had been built for Speedy (age 70), Tim, 40, and Shelly, 30, but that meant it took a longer time to round them up for bed at the end of the day. The Leicester Mercury reported in June that zoo officials were trying to use the lure of food to get the tortoises to significantly improve their way-under-1-mile-per-hour gait.

Undignified Deaths

(1) A 28-year-old man was accidentally killed in Shelby, N.C., in April. Police say he had trespassed on a salvage lot at 5 a.m. and was underneath a wrecked car trying to steal a catalytic converter when the jack slipped, and the car fell on him. (2) A 42-year-old man was shot and wounded while on his front porch in Antioch, Calif., on Friday morning, June 28. He was treated and released, but then walked out on his porch the next morning and was again shot, this time fatally.

A News of the Weird Classic

When Alcoa Inc. prepared to build an aluminum smelting plant in Iceland in 2004, the government forced it to hire an expert to assure that none of the country's legendary “hidden people” lived underneath the property. The elf-like goblins provoke genuine apprehensiveness in many of the country’s 300,000 natives (who are all, reputedly, related by blood). An Alcoa spokesman told Vanity Fair writer Michael Lewis (for an April 2009 report) that the inspection (which delayed construction for six months) was necessary: “[W]e couldn’t be in the position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people.” (Lewis offered several explanations for the country’s spectacular financial implosion in 2008, including Icelanders’ incomprehensible superiority complex, which convinced many lifelong fishermen that they were gifted investment bankers.)

© 2013 CHUCK SHEPHERD
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