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News of the Weird

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LEAD STORY: Yamaha Corp. recently introduced the MyRoom, a customizable, soundproof, shedlike structure with 27 square feet of floor space, for installation inside notoriously crowded Japanese homes, so that a resident can get privacy (or be exiled if he or she gets annoying). The company expects a sales surge in 2006, when Japan's first wave of baby boomer salary men retire and begin staying home more often. Yamaha developed the MyRoom concept for musicians to practice in, but subsequently realized that the boxes (which sell for the equivalent of about $5,500) had a much larger appeal.

Compelling Explanations: James Carroll Bayley, 44, pleaded guilty in May to killing his brother, Robert, in an incident in Raleigh, N.C., in which James alleged that Robert had come by, drunk, to retrieve his power drill that James had borrowed. James told the judge that he certainly didn't mean to kill Robert, but had grabbed his gun for protection, then "shot him in the right leg to knock him down." "Then," said James, "after a short time, I shot him in the head to make him dizzy so he would fall."A man (identified in court papers as John Doe), who suffered injuries and sexual dysfunction 11 years ago when a woman unexpectedly changed positions during intercourse (and fell on him and fractured his penis), was again turned down in his attempt to sue the woman. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts said in May that it would be impossible for a judge or jury to decide which movements in consensual sex were legally reasonable or unreasonable

Not My Fault: Julie Atkins, 38, of Derby, England, featured in a May BBC TV documentary on childbirth because her three daughters gave birth last year at, respectively, ages 12, 14 and 16, told the Sunday Mercury newspaper: "I don't care what people say about me. I blame the schools. Sex education for young girls should be better."Tommy Rollins Jr., 26, who police say shot Missouri state trooper Brandon Brashear nine times during a traffic stop (chasing him onto the median of Interstate 470 in Kansas City), told reporters in May: "The society's what caused me to do what I did. Just look at the society we live in." (At press time, Brashear was in critical condition.)

Least Competent People: Michael Lewis, 27, decided for some reason to fire his pellet gun at a .22-caliber bullet lying on a picnic table to see if he could hit it. He did; it exploded; and some of the bullet fragments lodged in his groin. He was hospitalized at Salina (Kan.) Regional Medical Center in March. (Police said alcohol was not involved, leaving "judgment" as the likely explanation.) And Justin Mitchell Oaks, 21, and his wife were miraculously uninjured after Oaks inadvertently drove their Toyota Corolla underneath an 18-wheeler on Interstate 10 in Tucson, Ariz., in April, got stuck, and was dragged 800 feet before the truck could stop. (Alcohol was not the problem here, either, but rather a cell-phone conversation.)Christopher Lamping, 20 at the time, was arrested for DUI in Indiana, Pa., in March, after he leaned on the horn repeatedly through three light changes because the car in front of him would not go through the green lights. The car in front was a marked Indiana police cruiser whose officers were talking to a man on the sidewalk, and after hearing enough of Lamping's horn, one officer walked over and noticed Lamping's odor of alcohol. According to the Indiana Gazette story, Lamping later explained that he "just didn't think of" driving around the stopped car.

The shame of the clumsy gunman (all-new): The following people accidentally shot themselves recently: Accused taxicab robber Rodriguez Massett (in the foot, while running from police) (Roswell, Ga., May); convenience store clerk Bunny Nat (in the hip, while adjusting the "protection" gun he carries in his waistband) (Des Moines, Iowa, April); a 21-year-old man (who, while horsing around, fatally believed an "unloaded" gun could not also have a bullet in the chamber) (Tacoma, Wash., April); a 16-year-old boy (in the leg, while aiming at a snake in his yard) (Port Wentworth, Ga., June); and Kole Eugene Maxwell, 18 (shot himself three times during one session of cleaning his 9mm pistol) (Centre, Ala., May). CORRECTION: According to a spokesman for the Liftport company, developing the "space elevator" (in a previous News of the Weird), the version now being considered is not a shaft but a 3-foot-wide ribbon to which orbitable objects will be attached.

© 2005 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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