British store owners seeking to drive away obnoxious, congregating teenagers have turned to security consultant Howard Stapleton's recent invention, similar to a dog whistle, that emits a high-frequency sound audible to most teens but few older people. "The Mosquito" (it's "small and annoying," Stapleton told a New York Times reporter, who vouched that she couldn't hear it, either) emits what one merchant called a pulsating chirp, not painful but surely irritating. A professor of neurophysiology verified that the ability to hear high frequency dissipates with age but that some people in their 20s and 30s could probably still hear it.
ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER
Robbin Doolin, 31, accidentally fell from her car while driving on U.S. 71 in Kansas City, Mo., in July when she opened the door to spit and leaned too far. (She quickly jumped up and chased her car, which left the road and ran down an embankment.) Also in July, Bobby Reynolds, 74, and his son Gary, 43, were hospitalized in Amarillo, Texas, after an incident in which their car got stuck on tracks at a railroad crossing. After unsuccessfully trying to move it, reported the Amarillo Globe-News, they somehow fell asleep in the car and were later hit by a train.
And in November, Parker Houghtaling, 23, standing on a station platform in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was hit in the head when he leaned out too far over the tracks as a Metro-North train was arriving. The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that Houghtaling was similarly hit by a New York City subway car in 2002 when he leaned out too far. (He was hospitalized both times.)
PRO BONO BONERS
The Boston Globe reported in September that the elite Palmer & Dodge law firm in Boston had been awarded almost $100,000 in fee reimbursement after putting a partner and three other lawyers to work representing a prison inmate upset mainly at being restricted in his use of the prison law library and being prevented from receiving "sexually explicit" photos in the mail. The complainant, Daniel LaPlante, murdered a pregnant woman and her two children, reportedly smirked at the jury, and was described by his trial judge as so detestable that the judge would have "no problem" personally executing him.
CRIMINALS CALL THE SHOTS
Inmate Robert Murray refused to appear at a court hearing in September in New York City because he "found it humiliating" to have to wear Hannibal Lecter-type restraints. (The HIV-positive Murray had admitted to at least four attempts to infect police officers by spitting blood at them.) And Biswanth Halder, facing 338 felony counts, including aggravated murder, in a shooting spree in Cleveland, declined to come to court in November until the judge let his lawyers go buy him a hairpiece. (The judge acquiesced.)
BOOK LEARNING OVERRATED
A judge in Santa Maria, Calif., ordered Nobel-prize-winning physicist John Robert Schrieffer, 74, to prison for two years in November after he acknowledged that he killed a man and injured seven others when he fell asleep at the wheel of his car, at more than 100 mph. Schrieffer had nine previous speeding tickets and was driving at the time on a suspended Florida license. He also admitted that he lied to police about the cause of the collision. (Schrieffer and two others shared the 1972 Nobel for their theory of electrical superconductivity.)
Ryan T. Green was convicted of murder in Pensacola, Fla., in October despite his defense that he was certain the "A" on his police officer-victim's hat was for Antichrist, whom he was obligated to kill. Clayton E. Butsch was convicted of murder in Everett, Wash., in October despite his defense that he was part of the movie The Truman Show and had been ordered to kill by a pet cat. And Reyes Olivares was charged with murder in Las Vegas, Nev., despite his defense in October that his construction-foreman victim was a sorcerer who put a spell on him with his flatulence.
No. 1: "Hundreds" of Krispy Kreme doughnuts onto Vineville Avenue in Macon, Ga., in September, when a delivery truck overturned to avoid a dog. No. 2: 30,000 pieces of mail to the IRS (mostly estimated-tax payments) into San Francisco Bay in September when a truck was involved in a collision on the San Mateo Bridge. No. 3: 35 tons of cooking oil onto already-icy Interstate 65 near Lowell, Ind., in November when a tanker overturned. No. 4: Just hours apart in June in Ohio, one truck overturned, spilling 19 tons of stick dynamite on Interstate 70 near Summerford (forcing nearby evacuations) and another carrying 16 tons of toilets overturned on Interstate 275 near Sharonville.
Singer Kenny Chesney, explaining to Life magazine in October how profoundly he felt the loss when he and actress Renee Zellweger ended their recent, brief marriage: It was "like opening the door to your house and having someone come in and take your big-screen TV off the wall during the big game, and there's nothing you can do about it." And Kelley Borland of Evans, Colo., who in September received a $100 ransom demand for the return of his missing dog, authenticated by what was supposedly a sample of the dog's droppings: "It looked like my dog's poop, but I'm not a dog poop expert."email@example.com