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News of the Weird

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Redundancies: In March, Awards World magazine sponsored the inaugural "Awards Awards" at London's Dorchester Hotel, handing out awards to members of the British awards-presentation industry for the year's best awards shows. Spokeswoman Barbara Buchanan explained, "Everybody likes to win an award," even the people who give out awards (who staged ceremonies for about 1,000 major presentations in Britain last year). Although Buchanan called this year's program a success, she said it is disqualified from receiving any awards at next year's Awards Awards.

Yogis in the news: In February, a consortium of yoga teachers filed a lawsuit in San Francisco against yoga master Bikram Choudhury (creator of the celebrity-trendy "Bikram" style), demanding that he become a little more serene, himself, and stop hassling them by claiming a copyright on his positions, some of which, they insist, are centuries old. And Agence France-Presse reported in January that yoga classes for dogs are available in Miami, New York City and Hollywood, producing such success stories as the aging pooch that, having assumed special dog-yoga positions, supposedly regained mobility in her hips.

Finer points of privacy law: Patient privacy regulations (under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) were recently blamed for hospitals placing restrictions on ward visits by Santa Claus (Davenport, Iowa, December) and by clergy members (Morgantown, W.Va., January) unless all patients give permission. And a Silver Spring, Md., woman was billed $17,000 by Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center before the hospital was allowed to tell her who the patient was, because of federal privacy laws. (The patient was her missing-person husband, who had been killed by a hit-and-run driver -- news the police were late in giving her.)

Can't possibly be true: In March, a court in Ansbach, Germany, turned down a challenge by a 43-year-old unemployed man to the government's denial of benefits stemming from his temporary separation from his wife, who is in her native Thailand. He claimed that since she could not afford to return to Germany, the government should pay for the travel, and since it refused to do that, the man said it should pay him for at least four visits a month to a prostitute, plus an allowance to buy condoms, pornography and an appliance to aid masturbation. In February, social workers found a feral family of six (only the father spoke a recognizable language; others used hand signs and noises) living in a shed on a farm at Theunissen, in Free State, South Africa. None of the kids (ages 14 to 26) had ever met anyone outside the family and simply ran into the woods any time visitors approached. One boy walked only in a froglike manner. The father said the kids were born normal, and he assumed their poor development was punishment because he could not afford the ceremonial sacraments of the Majola tribe.

A case report in the January issue of the Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences described a 27-year-old woman with an unshakable cough who, based on a radiograph, was found to have a condom lodged in her "upper right lobe bronchus." She eventually disclosed to doctors that it had happened because she accidentally "inhal(ed)" the condom during fellatio.

Least competent criminals: 1) The December attempted robbery of a BB&T bank in Chesapeake, Va., was aborted when the robber and the teller arrived at a stalemate. The robber pushed a holdup note across the counter, but the teller read it, said, "I can't accept this," and passed it back. The robber pushed the note through a second time. The teller wadded up the note and tossed it back at the robber, who picked it up and walked out. 2) And the robbery of a liquor store in Greenville, S.C., in February was aborted when the clerk ran out of the store after the perp told him to empty the register, while pointing his bare index finger at him, simulating a gun.

2004 Chuck Shepherd

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