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News of the Weird

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Cutting-edge action on prostate cancer: Doctors at the Ballarat-Austin Radiation Oncology Centre in Australia have begun inserting three rice-sized grains of 24-karat gold against patients' prostates. The pellets (cost: about $300 each) graft permanently onto the gland and help doctors aim the radiation with more precision. And in December, in Vancouver, British Columbia, local TV stations said they were reluctant to air a public service announcement provided by the Prostate Center at Vancouver General Hospital because it featured a prostate-examining doctor reaching inside his patient and pulling out a ticking time bomb (to dramatize the urgency for men to be examined).

Scenes of the surreal: 1) In November, mind reader the Amazing Kreskin wrote to the acting governor of his home state of New Jersey that he wanted to help the state shed its image of unethical deals and thus volunteered to sit in government meetings and identify which officials are secretly up to no good. 2) Stephen J. Marks, 47, was driving in morning traffic Nov. 3 near Nashville, wearing a ski mask and gloves, though the temperature was in the 60s, and an alarmed citizen called police. However, Marks demonstrated that he has a medical condition that necessitates his wearing a ski mask except when the temperature is above 80.

Questionable judgments: Citing a police press release, the German news organization Deutsche Welle (DW-World) reported in November that the reason motorist Julia Bauer of Bochum, Germany, lost control and smashed into a parked car and a lamppost was that she was preparing cereal and milk on the passenger seat while driving to work and tried to catch her bowl as it was falling to the floor. The cost of her breakfast (in damages) turned out to be about $27,000.

Cultural diversity: Sex despondency among women is apparently such a problem in Japan that business is booming for counselor Kim Myong Gan's 4-year-old company of trained male professionals who invigorate them, according to a November Agence France-Presse dispatch from Tokyo. Kim charges the equivalent of $190 for the initial consultation and scheduling, and his men provide hands-on assurance to the clients of their attractiveness and desirability. Most clients are either middle-aged virgins or wives whose husbands have grown to treat them as their sisters.Zimbabwe, facing a severe food shortage, is considering an unlikely program to bring rich foreign visitors to the country, according to a government announcement in November. The information minister proposed an "obesity tourism strategy," in which overweight visitors (especially Americans) would be encouraged to "vacation" in Zimbabwe and "provide labor for [government-confiscated] farms in the hope of shedding weight." Americans, the proposal noted, spend $6 billion a year on "useless" dieting aids and could be encouraged to work off pounds and then flaunt "their slim bodies on a sun-downer cruise on the Zambezi [River]."

Latest religious messages: In November, a Hindu seer in India's Orissa state drew large crowds, inspired by his calmness in the face of his announced, spiritually induced death, which was to come before noon Nov. 17. At noon, however, he was still alive, and, according to Asian Age newspaper, the crowd of 15,000 suddenly turned ugly, berating him for not dying, and police had to intervene. The man, who is chief cleric of Srignuru Ashram, told reporters, "I wanted to leave my mortal body, but I could not. Please forgive me."

People with issues: Mount Lee Lacy, 21, was arrested for animal cruelty after his girlfriend's mother sent police to his apartment in Gainesville, Fla. Lacy's aggressive mastiff kept the officers at bay momentarily, but once inside, police noticed another dog, a Jack Russell terrier, that had a bloody paw, and eventually Lacy cheerfully told them that he routinely bit the dog. According to a police sergeant: "[Lacy] said that biting the dog was good punishment and that's how you train them, that dogs bite, so that's what they understand."

2004 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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