As reported in News of the Weird in March 2002 (to apparently many skeptical readers), the 37-year-old female inmate who died at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Saskatchewan, Canada, succumbed from a toxic reaction to methadone that she had consumed by drinking the vomit of a fellow inmate who was on a methadone maintenance program. A coroner's inquest in March 2003 heard witness after witness describe inmates' practice of trading their methadone-laced vomit for various inmate favors, and the two inmates who admitted vomiting for the victim have since been sentenced for drug trafficking.
Name that loon
A February BBC report noted the fascination among tribes in Meghalaya, India, to appear mischievously worldly by giving their children prominent Western names (such as those of candidates in the Feb. 26 local elections, Adolf Lu Hitler R Marak, Tony Curtis, Rockefeller Momin and Hilarious Dhkar). Also popular are Bush, Blair, Clinton and Saddam.
All(ah) in the family
Officials in Saudi Arabia recently began to campaign against the culture of intrafamily marriage, which is practiced by almost half the country, according to a May New York Times dispatch. "Saudi Arabia is a living genetics laboratory," said an American researcher stationed there. Several genetic disorders have festered, but in many tribes, such disorders (attributed to God's will) have not in any way diminished the ideal of first-cousin marriages.
Cut the cord, tie the knot
In February, a 6-month-old girl was married in a Hindu ceremony in a village in Nepal, according to an Agence France-Presse report. Her cradle-robbing husband is 3, and their farming-caste families feared that if the children didn't tie the knot then, each one's marriage prospects would diminish as they got older.
Dead man driving
A gas-station booth in Boston was rammed by a car with a dead man at the wheel; the man had shot himself hours before with the engine idling, and rigor mortis caused his foot finally to either fall off the brake or hit the accelerator.
Last year's edition of the Washington, D.C., public-school system's standardized-test guide for elementary students was such a disaster of errors and typos that the new edition was anticipated to be a showcase of near-perfection. However, some critics told The Washington Post in April that this year's guide was even more embarrassing. For example, one question, featuring an image of nine flowers, asks the student to count them out, but the only multiple-choice answers available were numbers between 22 and 30. Another contained only this information: If 234 people saw a theater's first show, and 456 saw a theater's second show, how many people saw both shows?
Happy father's daze
In May, a priest of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, Ohio, Monsignor Robert V. Yarnovitz, pleaded no contest to indecency charges for an incident at a conference in nearby Huron Township. According to police, Yarnovitz was wandering, drunk and pantless, through the Sawmill Creek resort. When confronted by police, he repeatedly and aggressively answered their every question by uttering "Michael" and a slang phrase commanding someone to perform oral sex on him. A spokesman at Yarnovitz's church said the incident "was not characteristic of Monsignor."
Rules of the road
An obscure California law makes it shockingly easy for anyone to anonymously force a motorist into a formal hearing over his driving skills, according to a May story in the Southern California newspaper OC Weekly. The Department of Motor Vehicles said the so-far-underused law was designed to allow relatives of diminished-skill elderly drivers to ease them off the road, but that the legislation places no limits on who can use it. Any complaint, even a bogus one with no proof, leads to a formal hearing at DMV with license suspension a possible outcome, and DMV says it must enforce the law unless the legislature changes it.
Curator Mark Norman of Australia's Melbourne Museum revealed in January that he had captured and photographed the male of the world's most sexually unequal species. When the blanket octopus male (2 cm long) mates with the female (6 feet long), it uses a special extension arm to transfer sperm from its penis, after which the male dies. Females, which may weigh 10,000 times as much as the males, are typically found with several such extension arms lodged inside them.
Heaven's Gate can wait
The world did not end on May 15, contrary to warnings by Japan's 1,200-member Pana Wave Laboratory cult, whose public activities (covering themselves and their property in white sheets for protection against electromagnetic waves beamed by "communists") had drawn attention just before "doomsday." The Pana Wavers are believed not to be dangerous, although one member said that if the group's guru, Ms. Yuko Chino, soon succumbs to her (supposedly) microwave-induced cancer, the cult will, in revenge, exterminate "all humankind."