Doctors get the straight poop
News of the Weird has reported before on "smart toilets" that can make daily health-status readings. Now, a Cheshire, England, company has racheted up the technology a bit with a model that automatically performs urine and fecal analysis for users and can transmit the results to the family doctor via the Internet in the event the readings are out of line. A spokesman for the Twyford company told the BBC that its toilet could also call the local grocer to, say, send over some beans if the results indicated a lack of roughage in the diet. (Availability of the toilet is still several years away.)
A goodfella for the boys
In a recent story, The New York Times profiled ex-Colombo crime family captain Michael Franzese, 50, who "retired" from the mob in 1990 but -- contrary to the so-called Mafia code -- is still alive. Not only is he among the living but he also is a longtime coach in the Encino (Calif.) Little League. There, he is revered by parents who know his background but praise him for the unusually calm, encouraging demeanor he displays (compared to that of some parent-coaches). The Times writer speculated that Franzese may have bought his survival with stashed riches; his mob specialty was as a financial mastermind.
Candidate's squirrelly notion
Bernhard Goetz, who became part hero and villain in 1984 when he shot his way out of a perceived subway attack by black teen-agers in New York City, announced recently that he is running for mayor of the city on a limited-program platform: hire Mayor Giuliani (who legally cannot run again) to actually lead the city; install vegetarianism in municipal facilities; feed the poor generously but only with deliberately mediocre food (so they won't get used to it); permit city workers to take productive naps on the job, and promote the gentle squirrel as our most precious pet.
There but for fortune...
In the last several years, top corporate executives have received compensation (via sweetheart deals to buy their company's stock) in ridiculously high amounts unrelated to their efforts, according to experts cited by Fortune magazine. Several high-profile executives (e.g., Sandy Weill of Citigroup, Jack Welch of General Electric) "earned" over $100 million a year at the same time their companies' profits and stock prices were plunging. Each of their annual compensations equal roughly the salaries and benefits of 3,000 of their laid-off employees. According to Fortune's experts, corporate compensation committees often "reason" that if a stock's price falls, it is "necessary" to award the CEO even more stock options because, without them, he supposedly has little incentive to improve the company.
Detectives in Des Moines, Iowa, caught a break investigating a murder case that went to trial in May: A local Holiday Inn had not yet washed a bedspread from a crime scene in one of its rooms, thus yielding important stain evidence. Iowa law requires only that sheets and towels be cleaned after each guest; bedspreads are judged subjectively, and this one contained (in addition to the stains sought) 106 others, including 38 semen stains.
From the Roswell (N.M.) Daily Record police blotter, May 29: "A woman, who told police she had been on another planet for three years, reported a robbery Friday. She said a known person had taken the upper plate of her dentures valued at $800, silverware in a wooden box valued at $1,000 and various jewelry worth $1,000. She said she hadn't actually seen the named suspect take the items, but he Ã?moves so swift you can't see him.' "
Served in a Robert Frosty mug
News of the Weird recently reported on a British company that had installed three vending machines in London train stations offering single-sheet collections of poetry to commuters weary of reading newspapers. In April, honoring National Poetry Month, the Alaska Council of the Arts, working with the Borealis Brewing Co., decided upon another offbeat vehicle to improve society's exposure to poetry: beer-bottle labels. One selection saluted arctic poet Robert Service: "So cheers to Service, Yukon Bard / Who told us tales of the fearless / I'll take a book and frosty beer / Instead of dying, cold and beerless."
In May, Randy Lunsford announced he would appeal a Raleigh, N.C., judge's decision shutting him out of the estate of his 18-year-old daughter, who died tragically in 1999, prompting a successful $100,000 wrongful death lawsuit. Court records show that Lunsford left the mother about the time the daughter was born, never came back and never paid a penny in child support. Lunsford said, however, that he felt obligated to claim "his" share of his daughter's estate because he was fighting for all the imperfect parents out there. His argument: Since the daughter had turned 18 shortly before she was killed, the "abandoned child" rule should not apply to him.
Strangers in the night
Also, in the Last Month ... East Japan Railways began offering a female-only train car for late-evening commuters fed up with inebriated males furtively groping them (Tokyo). Two police officers, each believing the other was a civilian driving a stolen cruiser, fired a total of 20 shots at each other in a standoff; fortunately, every shot missed (Seattle). A customer was apparently the victim of a prank in a Kmart men's room and had to be taken to a hospital for removal of a toilet seat to which someone had applied adhesive (Waterloo, Iowa).