Monday, Dec. 28, 2009

News of the Weird

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The Bionic Man

A 55-year-old British man whose bowel was ruptured in a nearly catastrophic traffic accident has been fitted with a bionic sphincter that opens and closes with a remote control. Ged Galvin, who originally endured a dozen surgeries in a 13-week hospital stay, had grown frustrated with using a colostomy bag. That’s when surgeon Norman Williams of the Royal London Hospital proposed the imaginative operation. Dr. Williams, who was interviewed along with Galvin for a November feature in London's Daily Mail, wrapped a muscle transplanted from Galvin's leg around the sphincter and attached electrodes to tighten or loosen the muscle's grip.

Least Competent Criminals

Better Planning Needed: (1) Brier Cutlip, 22, and Paul Bragg, 25, who were on parole and prohibited from possessing firearms, were re-arrested in December in Elkins, W.Va., when they showed up for a parole appointment. They had just come in from a day of hunting and were still wearing orange vests, alerting the parole officer to the fact that they had been firing guns all day. (2) Grandville Lindsey, 30, on probation in Beaumont, Texas, after a child-indecency conviction and prohibited from visiting any "social networking" Web sites without prior approval, was re-arrested in November when he sent a Twitter alert to a female probation officer, asking to include her as an online "friend."

Common Sense Takes a Vacation

Three men were convicted in August in Kansas City, Mo., of having convinced "numerous" customers to buy 3-by-4-inch laminated "diplomat" identification cards. The men told customers that the cards would legally free them from ever having to pay taxes or being arrested for any crime. According to the FBI, customers gave the men fees ranging from $450 to $2,000 to get the cards.

Safety First in Britain

  • (1) In November, the Solihull Council in Britain's West Midlands area ordered a flooring store to remove the festive balloons it had pinned out front to attract business because the council said the balloons were hazards. One member of the council explained that drivers could be distracted by the colors, and another was concerned that if a balloon came loose, it might float into traffic and lure a child into following it. (2) In October, Britain's Association of Chief Police Officers prepared a guidebook of instructions for bicycle-duty officers on how to ride a bike. The book, which was 93 pages long, contained such assistance as a diagram on how to turn left or right ("deployment into a junction"). In November, following widespread ridicule, the association decided not to release the guidebook.
  • According to a November Daily Mail report, examiners from Britain's Health and Safety Executive inspected bowling alleys for hazards, and considered recommendations that included erecting barriers over the lanes to prevent bowlers from wandering the alleys and perhaps getting caught in pin-setting machines. One inspector feared that bowlers might injure themselves trying to knock over pins by hand. The proposed barriers would leave space for the ball to roll under.

Fun Memory Loss

Occasionally, people lose their short-term memory following vigorous sex, according to doctors interviewed for a November CNN report on "transient global amnesia." The condition occurs because blood flow to the brain is restricted by strenuous activity, temporarily disabling the hippocampus from recording new memory. One sufferer, going by the name of Alice, recalled her experience of initially cracking a joke about being unable to remember how good the sex was that she just had, and then repeating the joke over and over, each time as if she had just thought of it.

People With Too Much Money

After actor Nicolas Cage filed a lawsuit against his former business manager, Samuel Levin, for mismanaging his money, Levin filed his defense in November, charging Cage with creating his own problems by disregarding Levin's budgetary advice. According to Levin, Cage's 2007 purchases included three houses (costing $33 million), 22 cars (including nine Rolls-Royces) and 47 works of art. By 2008, Levin said, Cage owned 15 houses, four yachts, a Gulfstream jet and an island in the Bahamas.

Things You Thought Didn't Happen

British Museum officials announced in September that the hoard of seventh-century Anglo-Saxon gold and silver treasure discovered on land in Staffordshire—at least 1,500 pieces, including crosses and parts of helmets and daggers—would take a year to evaluate fully but could be worth "many times" the 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) archaeologists initially estimated. The treasure was discovered by an unemployed 55-year-old man using a hand-held metal detector that beachcombers favor to recover loose coins in the sand.

© 2009 Chuck Shepherd

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