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Armless pastime



In June, the Nottingham (England) Evening Post profiled archer Paul Hawthorne, who has won various titles despite losing an arm in a motorcycle accident 15 years ago. Until recently, Hawthorne competed by holding the bow string with a leather strap in his teeth and pulling his head back. But the practice has cost him one tooth after another, and he believes his competitive days are over.

Reach out and taunt someone

According to a July New York Times report, the most creative example of the Philippines' newfound national mania for sending text messages by cell phones comes from Muslim guerrillas at war with government troops in the southern islands. Ever since they uncovered documents that listed army troops' cell-phone numbers, the rebels have extended their hostilities by pecking out insults during lulls in combat.

Top this, Anna Nicole

The sudden January death of wealthy former Kansas stockbroker Marshall Gardiner at age 85 created a constitutional-law crisis when Gardiner's only offspring, Joe, 53, learned that his father's recently acquired 40-year-old bride had been born a male. Ms. J'Noel Gardiner had had her Wisconsin birth certificate changed to reflect her female status; the new document was honored in Kansas City, Mo., where she lives, but not accepted across the state line in Kansas, where she got married. Gardiner said she had disclosed the matter to her husband before their wedding, but Joe said his father was too religious to have accepted such an arrangement. The fate of Marshall's estate is still in the courts.

Withdrawal symptoms

In Reno, Nev., last May, a retired police officer was arrested on suspicion of DUI after he pulled into a gas station and attempted to withdraw money from a pump, as if it were an ATM. The same month, a 24-year-old Ottawa, Ontario, man who was partying with two friends leapt from a roof into a Dumpster and landed seat-first on a nail-studded piece of wood.

Passion for learning

May dispatches in The Times of London and the Daily Telegraph profiled Veronique Jullien's School of Seduction in Paris, which has produced 2,000 graduates since 1995. Typical assignments call for men to pick up strangers and for women to attract admirers by taking no initiative whatsoever. The nine-month curriculum runs about $2,300, but a one-month crash course costs about $1,000. Jullien's most helpful tip: "Everything happens in the first few seconds of contact."

Worth a second look

In May, to forestall a California Health Department crackdown, LaserVue Eye Center (which retains offices in San Francisco and Santa Rosa) sent letters notifying its 2,700 recent surgery patients that it had been reusing its single-use surgical blades after merely rinsing them in water. Investigators found that the company did at least sterilize the blades after every fourth use. Allegedly, LaserVue's Dr. Sanjay Bansal said he continued to use the blades because he wanted to rely on ones he was sure had worked.

Speedy recovery

According to a February New York Times report, recycling in Beijing is relatively efficient because a crew of about 80,000 rural migrants rummages through the city's garbage on a daily basis to pick out anything that could be resold or sent to recycling plants. "We're performing a valuable service for the city," one garbage picker said, "but everyone looks down on us." Another said he now earns almost 20 times as much as he did as a schoolteacher in a rural province, though his income is only about $70 a month. Some workers even make enough money to pay hotels for exclusive rights to their garbage.

Personal shoplifters

In May, two boys, ages 15 and 16, were charged in West Bend, Wis., with forming a startup business that took customers' merchandise orders and fulfilled them by shoplifting from local stores, mostly Wal-Mart. The boys carried business cards and order forms for their company, Globex, whose mission statement was, "To provide you with the things that you need at the cost you deserve."

Access all areas

In March, a court in Osaka, Japan, squelched the brilliant software creation of Takuya Kiuchi, 33, whose program forever removes the digital blurring that soft-pornographic web sites use to hide genitals from nonintended viewers. And in June, John Young, operator of a private web site on national security issues, discovered that he could download (from The New York Times web site) the original CIA report on the 1953 Iranian coup before the black censor bars could appear and hide classified parts of the report. Young's clean version of the report went onto his own site, but the CIA said it has figured out how to correct the problem.

Making new friends on line

Police in El Cerrito, Calif., arrested David Hill, 18, in April for carjacking. According to police, his selected victim was a man he had met earlier in the day in the driver's-license line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. To finger the culprit, the victim merely returned to the DMV office and selected the carjacker's photo from among that day's applications. And Joey Donnel Simmons, 29, was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a Houston judge in March for the armed robbery of taxi drivers. Simmons came to the attention of police when he and his accomplice walked into a station house to ask about the reward posted for the thieves' capture.

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