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News » News Quirks

Second-Amendment Science



Curses, Foiled Again
When Gloria Davis, 47, left her apartment in Hillsborough County, Fla., her estranged husband, Matthew Wong, 50, was “waiting out there to ambush her,” according to sheriff’s official Larry McKinnon. Wong chased Davis across the lawn, trying to douse her with gasoline. When she escaped by ducking into a neighbor’s apartment, he began setting fire to bushes and grass to try to “smoke her out,” McKinnon said. Unaware he’d splashed gasoline on himself, Wong “was instantly engulfed in flames,” neighbor Jo Akert said. After neighbors doused the blaze, Wong was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. (Tampa Bay Times)

Police had no trouble catching Chester Michael Schaffer, 30, who they suspected of robbing a convenience store in Hampton, Va. “He was located immediately,” police Cpl. Mary E. Shackelford said, trying to make his getaway on a moped. (Norfolk’s WVEC-TV)

Second-Amendment Science
Holding a gun makes you think others are, too, according to research by University of Notre Dame psychologist James Brockmole and Purdue University perception expert Jessica K. Witt. “Beliefs, expectations and emotions can all influence an observer’s ability to detect and categorize objects as guns,” Brockmole explained. “One reason we supposed that wielding a firearm might influence object categorization stems from previous research in this area, which argues that people perceive the spatial properties of their surrounding environment in terms of their ability to perform an intended action.” Witt added, “We hope that this information will be helpful to anyone who relies on a firearm for self-defense.” (University of Notre Dame’s Notre Dame News and Purdue University’s University News Service.)

Ambush of the Week
Part of a cell tower disguised as a palm tree broke off and crashed through the windshield of a car in El Paso, Texas. Driver Sergio Gonzales said the steel branch, made to look like a palm frond, impaled the vehicle and cut his face near his right eye. Blaming the accident on high winds, tower owner T-Mobile denied responsibility, pointing out the branch “broke in the middle of the frond, not at the point of attachment to the primary structure,” making it an issue with building techniques. (El Paso’s KVIA-TV)

Night of the Living Undead
Badgers have been desecrating human remains in the English town of Swindon by burrowing under graves and bringing bones to the surface. The Swindon Borough Council explained it is powerless to stop the badgers because of the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act. “Licenses to move badgers,” a council official pointed out, “are only granted in exceptional circumstances.” Following the council’s decision, Frances Bevan, a member of the Friends of the Radnor Street Cemetery, warned, “The badgers are left to breed.” (BBC News)

Bad Decisions
After a homeless man killed a venomous snake, believed to have been a cottonmouth, in Mobile, Ala., he cut off the head. His 41-year-old friend picked it up and stuck his finger in the snake’s mouth. The mouth bit down on his finger. When the victim began showing signs of poisoning, paramedics were called. He was treated with anti-venom and released. (Mobile’s WALA-TV)

British authorities reported that a 34-year-old Lithuanian man suspected of stealing fuel in Wiltshire abandoned his van when police spotted him and took off running. He tried to escape detection by a police helicopter with on-board thermal imaging by hiding in a manure pile at a farm. Officers on the ground noticed him “face-down in the dung” and arrested him. (BBC News)

Side-Effect Issues
Federal health officials required new safety warnings on labels of statins, which are widely prescribed to help prevent heart-related problems associated with cholesterol. The drugs include Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor. The Food and Drug Administration stated the drugs carry risks of memory loss and elevated blood sugar. The FDA emphasized that the side effects go away when patients stop taking the drugs. (Associated Press)

Illinois prison inmates have sued the state, claiming too much soy in their diets is causing severe health problems, including heart issues and thyroid damage. The conditions began, according to the suit filed on behalf of several inmates by the Weston A. Price Foundation, after then-Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich took office. Corrections officials cut spending on meals by increasing the use of soy to four times the amount recommended for a healthy diet. Besides substituting soy for “very nutrient-dense” organ meat in burgers, prisons “started using soy cheese on macaroni and cheese, soy nuggets in spaghetti sauce, soy flour added to all baked goods,” foundation president Sally Fallon Morell said. “The first thing that shows up is digestive disorders. Soy is extremely hard to digest, so you get vomiting, chronic constipation and horrible gas. You can imagine the effects in close quarters after eating this.” (The Washington Times)

There Oughta Be a Law
State senators in Arizona introduced legislation, SB1467, that would require all educational institutions in the state, including state universities, to suspend or fire any instructor who “engages in speech or conduct that would violate the standards adopted by the Federal Communications Commission concerning obscenity, indecency and profanity if that speech or conduct were broadcast on television or radio.” (The Huffington Post)

Petty Crimes of the Week
Two officers who searched Asheton Killiant Biggerstaff, 24, when he returned to the Gaston, S.C., jail from work release found two bags of wintergreen smokeless tobacco hidden between his butt cheeks. (Gaston Gazette)

Authorities reported that a man tried to buy gas at a station in Salisbury, N.C., by giving the clerk counterfeit $1 bills. When the clerk recognized the bills were bogus, the man left them on the counter and drove away. (Salisbury Post)

Compiled from the press reports by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.