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News of the Weird


Saved by airport security:
If it hadn't been for the metal detector at the Regina, Saskatchewan, airport, the woman might still wonder why her stomach pains, following June 2002 surgery, were persisting. When the detector relentlessly beeped but no metal could be found on her, she scheduled an X-ray and discovered that a 12-inch-long surgical retractor had been left inside. (A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January estimated that 1,500 items were left inside surgery patients in 2001.)

Urinal intramurals:
Matthew and Elaine Sweetapple recently invented a "game of skill, power, speed and endurance," consisting of a biodegradable ball (smaller than a golf ball) placed in a urinal, to be disintegrated by a urinator (either alone or in "competition"). The product, Peeball, was launched for sale (equivalent of $1.70) late in 2002 by Great Britain's Prostate Cancer Charity, which hopes the novelty will call attention to its cause, in that players with prostate problems are typically poor at the game. Player strategies, basically, are (1) direct stream and (2) intermittent stream.

Science on the edge:
Two University of Virginia neurologists told a professional conference in December that an egg-sized brain tumor in the orbifrontal cortex region was likely the only explanation why a 40-year-old, appropriately behaving man suddenly became a pedophile, frequently seeking pornography and making subtle advances to children. After surgery to remove the tumor, the inappropriate urges disappeared for months, but when the urges returned, doctors found that so had the tumor.

The District of Calamity:
In January, a 72-year-old woman was found dead in her Washington, D.C., apartment the day after a police officer had searched the apartment and failed to notice the woman's leg sticking out from underneath a bed. (Two months earlier, D.C. paramedics had bagged the apparently dead body of a 49-year-old woman, but later, three morgue employees said they detected a slight pulse; however, she died for real a few minutes later.) On another matter, The Washington Post reported in October that the District's payroll office, having already spent $20 million on a new computer system that never worked, had just spent another $14 million to transfer all the records back to the old, antiquated system, which led the Post to speculate that the squandered $34 million is probably more than the entire D.C. jail population combined had ever stolen.

Inter-species upsets:
A cockfight handler, about to release his rooster into the ring to do battle, with both birds outfitted with razor-sharp steel spikes on their legs, was killed when the rooster slashed the man's thigh and groin, causing him to bleed to death (Zamboanga, Philippines, January). And a 43-year-old man died of a gunshot wound shortly after telling his wife he was going to use his rifle to club to death the couple's Chinese shar-pei dog because it had bitten him; with no other explanation apparent, police suspect that the rifle accidentally discharged during the clubbing (Winchester, Va., January).

Also, in the last month ... :
Goalkeeper Richard Siddall stayed on the field for 10 minutes after everyone else had left because the fog that caused the soccer game's cancellation was so thick that he didn't see the players leave (Sheffield, England). Toki Holden, 38, was arrested and her day-care center closed when state investigators accused her of giving a crying 5-month-old boy a bottle spiked with NyQuil (Durham, N.C.). Paul and Hannelore Richter said they have been keeping a pet eel in their family bathtub for 33 years (transferred to a bucket when the tub is otherwise in use), first because their kids begged them to and later because the Richters feared it could no longer survive in the wild (Bochum, Germany).


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