News of the Weird September 19 2007

Cartoon adultery, sewage saves the day and more

Lead Story: Ric Hoogestraat is married to Sue and works at a call center in the Phoenix area but spends 30-plus hours a week inside the online Second Life video game, pretending that he is the digitally drawn Dutch Hoorenbeek, a 6-foot-9, muscular babe magnet who lives on his own island. That unnerves Sue, according to an August Wall Street Journal profile, especially since Dutch recently “married” a digital woman and set up housekeeping with their two digital dogs. (The real-life creator of the new Mrs. Hoorenbeek has never met Ric and says she never will.) Dutch and his wife spend hours shopping and motorcycling together, leaving Ric little time for Sue. “Is this man cheating on his wife [meaning Sue]?” the Journal asked. Lamented Sue: “You try to talk to [Ric] or bring [him] a drink, and [he]’ll be having sex with a cartoon.”</
Science on the Cutting Edge: In August, the Discovery Channel reported on the equipping of Bushmen (indigenous to Africa’s Kalahari Desert) with handheld Palm Pilot personal digital assistants to track animals and locate plants via special software. The illiterate hunters can tap screen icons representing various animals, the activities they’re engaging in and how many they see with a global-positioning satellite automatically recording the location.</
Leading Economic Indicators: The New York Times reported in July that at least eight buyers were vying to purchase one of the five parking spaces in the basement of the new condominiums at 246 W. 17th St., for $225,000 each.</
Least Competent Fraudsters: Belleville, Ill., psychiatrist Ajit Trikha pleaded guilty in June to defrauding Medicare and Medicaid of at least $1.85 million, including invoices claiming he worked more than 24 hours a day on 76 different occasions (40 hours on one day and treating 83 patients in 2 1/2 hours on another). He also claimed to treat patients 1,267 times in Belleville while he was traveling in Europe.</
People Different from Us: In July, a California appeals court rejected the challenge of Nizameddine Chokr, 51, leaving in place his five-year-plus sentence for repeatedly masturbating in public. However, Chokr, a suede-pants-wearing, facially discomforting, secret FBI agent (according to him), shamelessly lamented that women are constantly demanding sex from him, leading him once to proclaim in court, “I am the best ever.” He termed one of the masturbation episodes (according to a July Orange County Weekly report) an “involuntary” discharge and expressed confusion why patrons in Angelo’s Hamburgers restaurant would scream when he unzipped to clean himself. In another incident, he said he tried mightily to resist two women who picked him up at a bus stop, but said he had to accede to their sexual demands lest they file bogus criminal charges.</
Recurring Themes: News of the Weird has reported several times on various designers, and even engineers, who claim to have invented a more comfortable bra. In July, a team from Hong Kong Polytechnic Institute, citing “the complex 3-D geometry” of the breast, offered a mathematical equation that they said would yield greater comfort, producing a larger variety of sizes. The researchers tried out 100 different measurements, eventually narrowed to eight – overall build, volume, breast shape (inner, outer and lower), height, “gradient” and “orientation.” Their “depth/width ratio” would increase the number of sizes from the current A/B/C/D to as many as 20.</
Life-Saving Properties of Sewage: 1) In April, a woman hanging out laundry on the sixth-floor roof of a building in Nanjing, China, fell off but was only slightly injured when she happened to land in a shallow pool of the contents of the building’s septic system, which workers were cleaning. 2) A fiery auto crash in July near Augusta, Ga., had killed the driver and would likely have killed the passenger, too, if the fire were not immediately smothered. Firefighters were still minutes away, but passing by was a pump truck from a local plumbing company, whose quick-thinking driver extinguished the flames with 1,500 gallons of raw sewage from a septic tank-cleaning job he had just finished.</