Nissan's quality-assurance director at its plant in Sunderland, England, announced in July that the company had developed a substance based on the most destructive forms of bird poop they had found throughout the world, for the purpose of rigorously testing its automobiles' paint jobs. Added the director, John Burke, "It looks like the real thing: It's white, it's viscous and it smells horrible."
According to Pacific Dunlop, the company supplying condoms for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Olympic officials have requested 51 condoms per participant for the 17-day event. Said one athlete in the Daily Telegraphof London, "Three a day sounds too many."
Ham on the lam
Five people were indicted in Brenham, Texas, in August for a scheme to kidnap a pig, which had just lost a livestock show judging in Houston, and spirit it away to another show in San Angelo, Texas (where, by the way, it won first place, worth $4,000). The pig had belonged to one of the people accused, but under the rules of the Houston contest, all losing pigs automatically became the property of a slaughterhouse.
In May, a judge in Red Deer, Alberta, sentenced Nelson Dicks, 32, to 21 days in jail for making a false claim on an unemployment insurance form. Jail time is not usually given on first offenses, but Dicks got in additional trouble by volunteering that life was tough for him and that he might be forced to apply for benefits again even though he was working, provoking the judge to ask him, point-blank, "So you'll lie again?" Responded Dicks, "You're damn right."
Out of balance
In May, residents of Qiongshan village in Guangdong province, China, blew up a brand-new bridge on a main artery because they believed it had been constructed in violation of the principles of feng shui (spiritual beliefs about the arrangement of objects in a space). And New York feng shui authority Eliza Arekelian told The Independent of London that the July scaffolding collapse in Times Square was caused in part by the nearby billboard image of a Concorde jet, whose nose was pointing the wrong way. And Newsweek reported in May that business was booming for New York City "smudger" Eleni Santoro, who charges real-estate agents $200 an hour to erase the negative energy from a property.
In March, China's official Xinhua news agency reported that surgeons at a military hospital in Chongqing had successfully removed two of the three tongues of farmer Xian Shihua, 32, enabling him to eat and speak comfortably for the first time in 20 years. His birth tongue, which is 13 inches long, remains; the other two, which are each about 3 inches long, had grown during adolescence.
Washing his genes
News of the Weird reported that in January 1998, the executor of the estate of the late Larry Lee Hillblom (founder of the DHL international courier service) agreed to pay out $90 million to four Pacific Islands teen-agers if they could prove paternity by Hillblom's DNA. At the time, proof seemed imminent, but shortly afterward, the children's lawyers reported that not only had all of Hillblom's belongings disappeared from his house in Northern Mariana Islands but that the house had been sanitized to such a degree that not even a single hair could be found. Also, the site of Hillblom's 1995 plane crash was devoid of even a single speck of blood. In June, a former Hillblom associate was identified as a suspect in the movie-plot-like cleaning.
In September at a bar in Porto Hel, Greece, British vacationer Daniel Littlewood, 23, died showing off to a female companion that he was impervious to pain; he had instructed her to place a Swiss Army knife against his abdomen while he leaned into it with great force, but he miscalculated. And in August, Ivory Coast army Col. Pascal Gbah, 49, shot himself to death while testing a supposedly "magic" belt that the manufacturer (Gbah's cousin) claimed would protect the user from gunfire.