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News of the Weird February 06 2008

A composting toilet, designer babies and more

Lead Story: Joshua Hoge, a schizophrenic confined to Washington state's Western State Hospital, is claiming at least part of his late mother's estate even though he's the one who killed her in 1999. Washington law prevents profiting from the "unlawful" and "willful" taking of another's life, but Hoge was found "not guilty by reason of insanity," and the legal issue is still unsettled. Furthermore, according to a January report in the Seattle Times, it appears the mother's estate consists almost totally of the $800,000 the estate won in a lawsuit against a county health clinic because it was negligent in delaying Joshua's medications, which probably led to him killing her.

Can't Possibly Be True: Mr. Coll Bell, a New Zealander who invented a composting toilet supposedly superior to a septic system and who wanted permission from the Auckland Regional Council to install one at a campground, said an ARC bureaucrat had queried him on whether the worms he uses would be traumatized by the volume of work required in the annual two-week period of intensive campground use. Coll told Agence France-Presse in December that vermiculture expert Patricia Naidu had assured him the worms would be "happy."

Inexplicable: Police in Mount Lebanon, Pa., said in December that no illegal acts were involved, but some parents still want to know why the nondenominational Christian Mount Lebanon Young Life club had staged a teenagers' social event during which boys wore adult diapers, bibs and bonnets and sat in girls' laps while being spoon-fed. Said youth minister O.J. Wandrisco, the skits were not "dirty," but "to break down the walls and let the kids have fun." A previous skit involved, according to a parent, kids eating chocolate pudding out of diapers.

Chutzpah! Ingrates: 1) "Get in here and do your word omitted by the Allentown Morning Call jobs, you dumb omitted," said Donald Reidnauer Sr., 56, after summoning police to investigate a BB pellet fired at his house in Richland Township, Pa., in November. "I pay taxes. I am your boss. Get in here and do your jobs or I'll have to kick your omitted." Reidnauer then lunged at officers and was arrested. 2) Marjorie Kelley, 50, called 911 in Sarasota, Fla., in January after feeling chest pains, but she requested that no sirens or lights be used by the ambulance. When EMTs arrived using sirens and lights, Kelley reportedly jumped up and chased them down the street, wielding a rolling pin, according to WWSB-TV.

Injudicious Judges: In Dhanbad, India, Judge Sunil Kumar Singh has been trying to settle a 20-year-old land dispute involving temples of the Hindu gods Ram and Hanuman and has become impatient, according to a December BBC News dispatch from Patna. One priest claims the land belongs to him, but most locals say the temples own it, and Judge Singh, exasperated, recently placed ads in local newspapers asking Ram and Hanuman to come to court personally and address the issue.

People with Issues: Serious Substance Abuse: Joseph Cardillo, reportedly a certified therapist in tantra, kundalini and other spiritual arts, was arrested by sheriff's deputies in Boulder, Colo., in November for, among other things, drinking an 8-year-old girl's urine, which he allegedly caught in his cupped hands, according to a report in Boulder's Daily Camera.

Least Competent Persons: Ronald Stach, 41, climbed to the roof of the Canton Station bar in Baltimore Dec. 11 and remained until Christmas Day, protesting the poor showing of the Baltimore Ravens football team. As such, Stach called attention not just to the Ravens, but also to himself, and thus inadvertently alerted his former wife as to his whereabouts so that she could renew her years-long quest for at least $40,000 in back child support. Kelly Stach said she was especially incensed at a TV interview in which Ronald lamented how much money he had spent on Ravens memorabilia. Shortly after that, a second woman came forward, claiming Ronald also owed her $12,000 in back child support.

Recurring Themes: The desire of some deaf parents to create deaf children (and deny them subsequent sound-creating implant surgery, to assure that their kids are raised with the benefits of the deaf lifestyle and support of the "deaf community") made News of the Weird in 1995 and 2002. According to a December report in the Times of London, one provision of the U.K.'s pending Human Tissue and Embryos Bill would prevent embryo-screening couples from creating "designer" babies, but the British Deaf Association is campaigning for an exception to allow deaf parents to choose specific embryos more likely to yield deaf children.

People with Too Much Time on Their Hands: 1) According to a report in Britain's Bolton News in December, the House of Lords has recently been discussing the need to reduce the thickness of slices of bread, which Baroness Gardener of Parkes said would help alleviate Britons' alarming levels of obesity. 2) TV's Weather Channel recently released a CD comprising 12 of what it called the most popular jazz selections that play on its "Local on the 8s" weather screens (tunes presumably requested by those who watch the Weather Channel often enough to actually have favorites).

© 2008 CHUCK SHEPHERD