News of the Weird October 31 2007

Lead Story: In September, prominent California cardiologist Maurice Buchbinder had his privileges revoked at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla after he allegedly roughed up an unruly angioplasty patient during and immediately after the procedure. Buchbinder was so irritated by the patient's combativeness that he even (according to witnesses interviewed by state medical licensing officials) delivered a pair of what could be described as "Three Stooges" moves: bopping the patient in the head with the tip of his elbow and twisting the patient's nose until it turned "bluish."

The Entrepreneurial Spirit! 1) A Japanese clothing manufacturer, Kochou-fuku, announced in August a line of air-conditioned shirts, with two tiny battery-operated fans inside to evaporate perspiration (for the equivalent of about $95). (One drawback: The shirt billows out, suggesting that the wearer is overweight.) 2) Among the recent recipients of Marin County (Calif.) Green Business certificates of environmental awareness was Pleasures of the Heart, a sex toy and lingerie store that sells, among other items, rechargeable vibrators and erotic undergarments made of organic bamboo fabric.

Frontiers of Science: Noted Israeli plastic surgeon Dr. Eyal Gur said in August that he expects approval next year for his revolutionary breast-lift procedure ("an internal bra") in which an actual thin titanium bralike frame is implanted just under the skin with silicone cups to hold the breasts up. Gur said the procedure will be quicker (40 minutes long), less invasive (local anesthesia only) and less expensive (no hospital stay) than today's breast lifts.

Voices: Last year, William McCartney-Moore, 9, was rushed to the hospital in York, England, following a seizure and, after surgery, was mute for several weeks until he finally spoke, not in his strong "Yorkshire" accent but in "the Queen's English" as his mother described it (though his accent returned shortly). The outcome was similar for Czech race-car driver Matej Kus, 18, who was knocked out cold in a U.K. speedway accident in September, only to awaken speaking not in his habitually broken English, but with flawless diction. (His new "dialect" lasted only a few days, and Kus says that he remembers none of it.)

Endangered! Biologists who have been studying "Lonesome George," the sole survivor of a species of Galapagos Island tortoises, told Reuters News Service in July that they are skeptical he will ever mate, even though he may live another 100 years. After so many abortive attempts to pair him with a female (even having randy young male and female tortoises demonstrate mating for him), they say George remains totally uninterested.

Fine Points of the Law: Frederick Cronin is challenging the suspension of his New Hampshire driver's license, claiming that his blood-alcohol reading (0.13) was not properly obtained. State law calls for two readings, with the second 20 minutes after the first, and Cronin claims that his second test was administered too soon. During the 20-minute period, he said, he had burped, and state law requires the 20-minute delay to restart following any "vomiting, regurgitating or belching." In June, however, a hearing examiner accepted the ticketing officer's testimony that Cronin never "belched" but rather emitted only a "dry burp," which the examiner described as air emanating not from the stomach but from closer to the mouth.

People with Issues: Convicted sex offender Paul D. Brunelle-Apley, 26, was arrested again, in Madison Township, Ohio, in September, when his attempt to make up with his 14-year-old girlfriend came to public attention. According to police, Brunelle-Apley was seeing another girl on the side (age 15), and in a display of remorse, he delivered flowers and a teddy bear to his main girlfriend while she was in class at Madison High.

Least Competent Criminals: According to police in Warsaw, Poland, novelist Krystian Bala might have gotten away with torturing and murdering a businessman in 2000 if only he had resisted writing about his crime in his 2003 novel, Amok. The trail for the killer had been cold for several years until a tipster informed police of the book. In the plot, which authorities say bore a distinct resemblance to the 2000 murder, were details that police say could only have been known by the killer. After investigating, police found several other ties Bala had to the crime, including that the victim was Bala's ex-wife's lover. Bala was sentenced in September to 25 years in prison.

Recurring Themes: Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Small-time drug operators, thinking they are keeping a low profile, continue to have their hideouts inadvertently discovered by police. In June, a single-engine plane crash-landed outside a home near Baton Rouge, La., and responding police discovered marijuana plants in the yard. In September in Escatawpa, Miss., Curtiss Coleman, 53, attempting to dial 411 directory assistance, mistakenly dialed 911. Though he immediately hung up, police routinely investigate dropped 911 calls and discovered Coleman's methamphetamine lab.

Undignified Deaths: Tall Buildings Claim Three More: A 27-year-old man who idolized the late singer Jim Morrison accidentally fell to his death from a New York City apartment building in July. (Morrison himself was known as a daredevil, with a fondness of walking on the ledges of buildings.) And in June, a man and a woman in their early 20s were found dead and naked next to a four-story building in Columbia, S.C., and police concluded that they had accidentally fallen. (The pair had apparently discarded their clothing on the roof and, said police, possibly had tumbled off while having sex.)