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News Quirks 06.15.05


Published June 15, 2005 at 4:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

When Ron Stone, 30, asked Sgt. Jason Kearney for a ride in his marked patrol car, the Bulloch County, Georgia, sheriff's deputy agreed but said he first had to search Stone for weapons. Stone consented, according to Sheriff Lynn Anderson, who reported that Kearney found two small bags of marijuana on him. He took Stone to Bulloch County Jail, where a check turned up an outstanding warrant in another county for marijuana possession with intent to distribute.

- Police in Roswell, Georgia, said that Rodriquez Lamar Massett, 18, robbed a taxi driver of $74 at gunpoint and fled on foot but was spotted by police. "While the suspect was running," police Sgt. James McGee said, "the weapon discharged, striking the suspect in the foot."

Life and Death

Unhealthy lifestyles, emotional stress and environmental pollution in China's richest city have taken a heavy toll on the local sperm count. The Shanghai Daily reported that Shanghai's sperm bank has managed to collect just 6000 samples in two years, and many of those were of "poor quality." "More than 2000 people came here for physical checks and only 400 were found to be qualified" to donate sperm, the sperm bank's director, Li Zheng, told the newspaper.

- Shanghai, which is trying to reverse more than a decade of slowing population growth, abolished rewards last year for married couples who decide not to have children. China imposes strict family-planning rules that typically allow couples to have just one child, but those have eased over the years as the country faces an estimated $300 billion shortfall in its pension system, while its populace rapidly ages.

Petty Bureaucracy

In Illinois, Kane County Recorder Sandy Wegman called the police after title searcher Jerry Bannister showed up at the recorder's office with a stool to sit on while working. Three weeks earlier, Wegman had ordered chairs removed from 18 of the 19 title-search computers in the office, requiring people using the public computers to stand. She explained that the move was intended to encourage the searchers to finish their work instead of socializing. Bannister, who said he had a substantial amount of work to do, was asked to put away his stool but refused. Officers escorted him from the building.

Or Are You Just Glad to See Me?

Police in Stamford, Connecticut, arrested Arthur Bertana, 62, for lewd conduct after they said he placed a toy banana in his pants and flashed people. "Over a span of time, there were several reports of a subject wearing extremely tight pants with an obvious bulge stuffed down his pants," Sgt. Roger Petrone, Jr. said, explaining that Bertana usually held a bag in front of his pants, then moved it to show passersby the bulge. "It was a yellow, plush, child's toy banana," Petrone said. "It had a smiley face on it."

Lest We Forget

Some of the 20,000 Australians and New Zealanders who traveled to Turkey's Anzac Cove to commemorate the more than 11,000 Australians and New Zealanders who died there during World War II's nine-month Gallipoli campaign expressed outrage when Australian organizers of the ceremony played the Bee Gees' hit song, "Stayin' Alive," along with "You Should Be Dancin'," on a large screen during a break in the official program. "It's not a festival," Amy Hutton, a member of the crowd, complained. "You are here to pay respect."

Vehicular Follies

Seo Sang-moon, 69, finally passed his driver's license exam on the 272nd attempt. He explained that he is illiterate and used the oral-exam option of the test process to teach himself the rules of the road because he could not read them in a manual. He paid about $1000 in fees over the past five years, learning a little more each time he failed until he finally earned the minimum score needed to pass. Seo immediately turned his attention to his road test, pointing out, "After trying 271 times to pass the oral exam, what do I have to be afraid of?"

- More Americans are riding motorcycles than ever, led by aging, affluent baby boomers, according to the Washington Post, which reported that riders over 40 account for 60 percent of the increase in motorcycle deaths. At the same time, the paper pointed out, older riders are leading efforts to eliminate or weaken mandatory helmet laws in states that have them. "Truth be known," Jim Cannon, 45, head of the Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists, insisted, "I'm probably a safer rider without a helmet."

Heading for the Promised Land

Intensified efforts to stop illegal border crossings from Mexico to the United States have spurred more imaginative efforts by smugglers and individual migrants. "The creativity is basically without bounds," Adele Fasano of the San Diego district of U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. Border officials found Marisela Chavez-Ramirez and her 3-year-old daughter curled up in the gas tank of a Dodge Caravan, for example. In Texas, authorities found a man rolling down the street disguised as a tumbleweed. People have also tried attaching cow hoofs to their feet to disguise their footprints. "The only problem with that," said Doug Mosier of the Border Patrol in El Paso, "is there aren't too many two-legged cows."

Supporting the Team

An underwear maker celebrated the birth of Japan's first new professional baseball team in 50 years with a commemorative bra shaped like baseballs, each bearing mascots of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. The maker, Triumph, said that the bra is made of synthetic leather and has dolls of the team's furry mascots "Clutch" and female "Clucchina" attached to the side of each bra cup. Completing the theme, the bra is trimmed with a real eagle's feather.