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News » News of the Weird

Suspicions Confirmed



Foul-Feathered Friends
In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noting a recent uptick in cases of "live-poultry-associated salmonella," repeated its earlier (apparently largely ignored) alert that people should not be kissing chickens (or ducks or turkeys). CDC noted the recent popularity of urban egg farming, but reminded "hipster" farmers and faddish pet patrons that cuddling the animals, or bringing the little darlings into the home (even those that appear clean and friendly), can spread dangerous bacteria for which humans are unprepared.

Suspicions Confirmed
A recent working paper by two Louisiana State University economists revealed that the state's juvenile court judges dole out harsher sentences on weeks following a loss by the LSU football team (among those judges who matriculated at LSU). The differences in sentences were particularly stark in those seasons that LSU's team was nationally ranked. (All sentences from 1996 to 2012 were examined, for first-time juvenile offenders, except for murder and aggravated-rape cases.)

• The NCAA's two-year probation handed to Georgia Southern University's football program in July included a note that two football players were given "impermissible" inside help to pass a course. It turns out that even though GSU's former assistant director of student-athlete services stealthily wrote five extra-credit assignments for each of the players, still, neither player was apparently in good enough shape to pass the course.

A paramedic with the St. Louis Fire Department discovered on Aug. 4 that his car, in the station's parking lot, had been broken into and was missing various items. Minutes after he filed a police report, the station received an emergency call about a pedestrian hit by a car, and the paramedic and crew rushed to the scene. As he was helping the victim, the paramedic noticed that his own gym bag and belongings were strewn about the scene and concluded that the man he was attending to was likely the man who had broken into his car. The paramedic continued to assist the man, and police told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that they would arrest the man as soon as he was discharged from the hospital.

• Raylon Parker, doing his duty in August on a grand jury in Halifax County, N.C., listened to a prosecutor lay out a case, and to Parker's apparent surprise, the case was against Raylon Parker (for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill). Still, he voted on the indictment, which passed (though, due to grand jury secrecy, we do not know which way he voted). One possibility: He voted to indict, assuming a judge would toss it out, tainting the prosecutor's case. However, Parker's judge said the indictment—signifying "probable cause"—was still valid and that she would not inquire how Parker had voted.

Bright Ideas
Business is booming for Lainey Morse, the owner of No Regrets Farm in Albany, Ore., and the founder of "Goat Yoga"—an outdoor regimen of relaxation carried out among her wandering goats. "Do you know how hard it is to be sad and depressed when there are baby goats jumping around?" she asked, proudly noting that she is booked up right now, with a waiting list of 500. One problem has surfaced, though (as she told a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reporter): Naive baby goats try to eat flower designs on yoga mats, leading Morse to permit only mats of solid colors.

• Wesley Autrey, 42, was arrested by Scranton, Pa., detectives in September in a drug bust with five bags of heroin and four of cocaine (along with $3,083 cash) and charged with dealing. Autrey (street name, for some reason: "Newphew") wet his pants during the arrest, which police said he did under the mistaken impression that heroin would dissolve when exposed to urine.

• Although India's sacred Ganges River remains ridiculously polluted, it retains holy credibility for Hindus, who consume and bathe in it regularly for salvation. Since reaching the Ganges can be difficult for India's poor, the country's postal service (with 155,000 offices) began recently to offer home delivery of the Ganges, in bottles, for the equivalent of about 22 to 37 cents. (Tip: Water bottled in the small town of Gangotri, which is near the origin of the river, is likely cleaner; the other bottler, in the city of Rishikesh, which is holier but located farther down the river, likely presents worshippers a stronger test of faith.)

• "Clitoris activism is hot in France right now," reported London's The Guardian in August, highlighted by the introduction in school sex education of a 3-D model of the organ—demonstrating, by the way, that it more resembles a "wishbone" or a "high-tech boomerang" than the "small, sensitive" "bud" of dictionary description. French clitoris scholars emphasize that most of the several-inch-long organ is internal and just as highly excitable as its male counterpart, and their wide-ranging societal campaign includes a magazine whose title translates to "The Idiot's Guide to the Clit."

Recurring Themes
Emma Marsh of Kuraby, Australia, shelled out $500 in September for her goldfish's emergency medical care to remove the pebble stuck in poor Conquer's throat. (Brisbane's Courier-Mail noted that the $500 could have bought 40 replacements—that $500 is about what an actual bar of gold of Conquer's weight would cost.)

Elsewhere Down Under, researchers from Murdoch University in Perth said in August they were working on a goldfish-control program after learning that one species dumped in the nutrient-rich Vasse River in Western Australia could grow to 4 pounds—and the size of a football.)

Music researcher David Teie announced in September that he had landed a deal with major label Universal Music to distribute his "Music for Cats" (touted in News of the Weird in February). The music, with Teie accompanying on the cello, includes painstakingly timed "purring" and "sucking" sounds designed to relax kitties, and he reiterated plans to move on to special music for other animals. In a similar vein, artists led by Dominic Wilcox staged a brief August show in London of exhibits and paintings of scenes that Wilcox thought would appeal to dogs, and would, he said, garner "tail wags." One interactive exhibit, for example, featured an open car window simulator hosting an array of scents.

The Passing Parade
Hippie grandmother Shawnee Chasser, 65, who has lived in a tree since 1992, is under siege by county officials in Miami who plan to tear down her tree house by December unless she brings her property up to code. It's a full-featured, well-appointed tree house—and she owns the land underneath, but prefers the "heaven" of her high perch, especially when it rains.

• Six times since 2004, cars have left New Hope Road in Raleigh, N.C., and crashed into the home of Carlo Bernarte, and in September he desperately sought help from traffic officials— and indicated that it might be time to move. (He suggested the state install a barrier, but apparently that would block drivers' line of sight.)

Thanks this week to Rob Boyden, Michael Brozyna, Russell Bell, Edgar Pepper and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.