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News of the Weird
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The Perfectly Equal Society

(1) In January, Canada’s human rights commission was authorized by the Supreme Court to resume consideration of a union’s claim that Air Canada’s flight attendants (who are mostly women) are just as valuable, and therefore should be paid the same, as its pilots and mechanics (mostly men). (2) Also in January, Doug Anglin, 17, filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against Milton (Mass.) High School, which he said discriminates against boys by giving better grades to students who “sit down, follow orders, and listen to what (teachers and administrators) say.” “Men,” Anglin told a Boston Globe reporter, “naturally rebel against this.”

Bold New Niches for Restaurants

The Guo-Li-Zhuang opened recently in Beijing, exclusively serving delicacies made with animal penises and testicles, exploiting the traditional Chinese belief that such foods enhance virility. (Women can prosper, as well, because penis is good for the skin, according to a nutritionist cited in a February London Daily Telegraph dispatch.) Showcase dishes include “Dragon in the flame of desire” (which is yak) and the “hotpot” (six types of penis plus four of testicle). The most expensive is Canadian seal penis, at the equivalent of about $400.

Several cafes in Hong Kong now lend their dining guests dogs and cats to pet during their visits. This temporary affection, according to a January Der Spiegel dispatch, is popular because Hong Kong residents find it so inconvenient to own pets in such a densely populated city. Also in January, the owner of the Augsburg, Germany, restaurant La Boheme confirmed that while customers are welcome to bring their own dogs with them when they dine, “small children” are not allowed in the evenings. “After a hard day’s work, (diners) want some peace,” he told Agence France-Presse.

Science on the Cutting Edge

Seventh-grader Jasmine Roberts became a celebrity of sorts in February when her hometown Tampa Tribune published results of her winning science-fair entry, which concluded that the drinking-water ice of several local fast food restaurants contains more bacteria (including some E. coli) than the same restaurants’ toilet water. She used a laboratory at the University of South Florida’s Moffitt Cancer Center, where she is a volunteer assistant for a professor.

Still More Weird Animal Mating Rituals:

(1) According to scientists who made rare observations of wombats having sex, published in December, there was chasing, biting, grunting, and stops and starts, along with the female’s bewildering “figure-eight dance,” which she employed as a pre-requisite for being mounted. (2) A male beluga whale signals his urge by, basically, crashing into a female to draw her attention to his aroused state, according to a February Chicago Sun-Times report from the city’s Shedd Aquarium. If the female is also ready, she turns her body to expose herself, after which mating is accomplished in a matter of seconds, followed by the male’s abrupt and permanent departure from her life.

Leading Economic Indicators

In Nagano, Japan, in February, five disgruntled Buddhist monks (along with four clerical workers) at the Zenkoji temple formed a labor union that was certified by the National Confederation of Trade Unions, to combat what they say was harassment by the head monk regarding working conditions.

The latest product for routine U.S. outsourcing is sperm, according to a November report by In a program established by the highly regarded Dr. Sanford Rosenberg of Richmond, Va., a potential father’s sperm is shipped to a lab in Bucharest, Romania, to fertilize eggs of local women, with the resultant embryos frozen and returned to the United States for implanting in the mother, at about half the domestic price for the procedure.

Least Competent Criminals

Totally Hapless: (1) Matthew John Wyman, told to recite the alphabet at a roadside DUI stop in West Roxbury, Mass., in November, asked the officer if he could please substitute a math problem instead (Answer: No). (2) Frank Traina’s attempted armed robbery of a Chinese restaurant in Levittown, N.Y., in December went awry when the owner realized that Traina’s realistic-looking gun was leaking water from the barrel. (3) In December, Auckland, New Zealand, police arrested the man who had robbed a bank but then, disappointed at the size of the loot, had telephoned the bank manager and ordered him to stand out front with more money, which he would grab on a drive-by. (The robber never showed up, but police traced the phone call.)

Recurring Themes

(1) Latest lame reason for not paying taxes: James Clifford Hanna, of Canada’s Yukon Territory, argued in court in February that “James Clifford Hanna” was merely a name involuntarily given to him and since he never accepted it, he can’t be forced to paytaxes. (He lost.) (2) In December, Terry Dresdow of Milwaukee became the latest person to have his car stolen and retrofitted by the thief with fancy equipment, and then to get his car back after the thief was caught. His 1989 Chevrolet Caprice now has a top-of-the-line stereo system, deluxe spoked wheels and keyless entry.

Readers’ Choice

(1) While camping in California’s Mojave Desert, artist Trevor Corneliusien, 26, chained his own ankles together in order to draw an image of his legs, but when he finished, he realized he did not have the key. He hopped around the desert for 12 hours before arriving at a gas station, where he called for help (January). (2) Convicted methamphetamine user Daniel Zeiszler, 22, burned his hand and arm last year in a San Francisco hotel room attempting to extract meth from his own urine in a crude recycling attempt. At his sentencing his lawyer acknowledged that it would take “gallons” of urine to extract a usable amount of meth.

Undignified Deaths

An 81-year-old school crossing guard was accidentally struck and killed by a 70-year-old crossing guard who was driving to his own post (Park Ridge, N.J., October). And a 62-year-old woman was found dead, having suffocated under a pile of debris that fell on top of her in her home (Shelton, Wash., January). (Clothes and trash were piled almost to the ceiling in every room in her house, and rescuers searched the home for 10 hours before locating her body.)