Inga Kosak won the first World Extreme Ironing Championship in Munich in September, beating 80 contestants from 10 countries who are judged on the degree of difficulty they can create for themselves in order to iron. One ironed while bouncing on a trampoline, another while surfboarding on a river and another hanging upside down from a tree. Enthusiasts have photos of themselves ironing in remote mountain locations, where power for the steam iron must come from a generator (or a very long extension cord). The activity's founder, Phil Shaw, says he does it because ironing itself is particularly boring.
Michael Carroll, 19, of Norfolk County, England, won that country's national lottery (the equivalent of $41 million) in November and said he hopes the money will be an incentive to overcome the life of petty crime he has led for the last several years, which included convictions for being drunk and disorderly, vandalizing a school bus, car theft, other theft and driving without a license. He cannot now celebrate his win at a pub, nor drive his new car, because judicial restrictions are still in force from his last sentence.
Art is dead
In November, coroner Nigel Meadows of Plymouth, England, ruled that the 18-years-dead corpse of Edwin MacKenzie (known to locals as "Diogenes") was actually the personal property of the recently deceased artist Robert Lenkiewicz and thus should go to Lenkiewicz's estate. MacKenzie was Lenkiewicz's helper for many years, and when he died without heirs, Lenkiewicz took possession of the body, had it embalmed and used it in various art projects. Lenkiewicz's executor is said to be considering using it in a memorial display of the artist's work.
Burglars hit the K Bros. Service Station in Everson, Pa., in November and lugged away the lottery-ticket machine, perhaps hoping to print themselves some winning tickets. A lottery spokesman said the machine only works when it's hooked up to lottery headquarters.
This November in Fort Worth, Texas, Baptist minister James Andrew Smith, 42, was arrested for a September graphics presentation that he was making with his computer. He had clicked the wrong line and inadvertently called up a photograph of a nude boy, which led to a search that police said yielded much child pornography.
News of the Weird reported in March that jail officials in Arapahoe County, Colo., had inadvertently placed a 16-year-old girl in a holding cell with a man suspected of several sexual assaults and, indeed, she said, he fondled her.
In August, officials at the same Arapahoe jail inadvertently placed accused killer Edward Brown, 21, in the same cell with a witness against him, Martin Brewer, 21, whereupon Brown allegedly beat Brewer up, breaking his nose.
This September, officials in Albuquerque inadvertently locked four men in a cell with what they thought was a sleeping man, but it was a woman; by the time they realized their error 30 minutes later, the woman had allegedly been raped.
Mike Rucker, running for county commissioner in Tallahassee, Fla., apologized for urinating in a voter's yard in October, attributing it to a prostate problem and not anger that the voter had moments earlier refused to post Rucker's campaign sign.
Republican Lamar Alexander, running for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee, reportedly turned a hand-shaking opportunity into a hand-squeezing contest with an opposition voter who had mischievously slipped Alexander a Democratic brochure in Dickson, Tenn., in October.
Makinka Moye, running for city supervisor in San Francisco, was revealed by the Bay Area Reporter in September to have been arrested earlier this year for bludgeoning and butchering a goat on a vacant lot near a city recreation center. (Alexander won; Rucker and Moye lost.)
In September, Peru congressman Eittel Ramos, feeling insulted, challenged Vice President David Waisman to a duel using pistols, which would be the country's first political duel since a 1957 presidential candidates' fight with swords.
Two teams of Canadian engineers are completing their low-budget rockets and have begun seeking volunteer astronauts for a 2003 launch date to go 62 miles into space to win the St. Louis-based X Prize competition, which pays $10 million (U.S.). The rockets and those of about 20 other international contestants are the "Cessnas" of the space industry, costing around $3 million to $5 million each to build. The astronauts will receive some training, but the engineers admit the adventure is hardly for the risk-averse.
The Evangelical Environmental Network in Wynnewood, Pa., announced a national campaign to discourage gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles, calling its project "What Would Jesus Drive?"