“Cow-tipping” (the legendary prank of sneaking up on a dozing cow and pushing her over) was exposed as a near-impossibility by researchers at the University of British Columbia, according to a November report in The Times of London. Calculating the newtons of force required to topple an average cow (estimating the angles between left hooves, right hooves and the point of push; and the resistance of the cow to downward pressure), Dr. Margo Lillie found that two people could exert the required force only if the cow made no reaction at all to the initial touch, but that more than likely, a successful tipping would require at least five people.
An official adviser to the Blair government warned in September that Britain urgently needed 250 special treatment centers, staffed by 10,000 therapists, to deal with what he called the country’s “biggest social problem”: a national epidemic of “unhappiness.” And in October, German companies donated the equivalent of about $35 million for a media campaign to make their countrymen feel better about themselves. Sample script: “[O]utdo yourself. Beat your wings and uproot trees. You are the wings. You are the tree. You are Germany.”
LATEST RELIGIOUS MESSAGES
Adam Turgeon, 27, and Lisa Wagner, 26, were arrested in October for vandalizing the Annunciation of the Lord Catholic Church in Decatur, Ala., which they both said they were moved to do by Jesus Christ himself. Turgeon explained that the couple, independently, had experienced visions of Jesus, and when they found themselves in services on Oct. 2, they re-enacted the part of their dreams in which they wrecked the church’s altar as a protest against “manmade religion” and idolatry. Turgeon said he was especially bothered by people who balance their checkbooks during church services and by religions that believe only parts of the Bible.
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS
Barbara King, 35, was arrested in Largo, Fla., in October on a warrant for forgery and prescription fraud; when police knocked on her door, a man told them that she wasn’t home, but a 4-year-old girl standing alongside said, “Mommy’s in the closet!” And police in Memphis, Tenn., reported in October that they had closed down a crack house on Rosamond Street, a task made easier because the resident usually announced the start of business hours by hanging out a sign reading, “Crack House.”
In a September road-rage incident in Salt Lake City, a woman sped by in a blocked-off lane to get around a 25-year-old motorist on Interstate 15, then rolled down her window and screamed at him. The man, according to a report in the Deseret Morning News, made an “obscene hand gesture.” The woman then pulled out a .357-caliber revolver, shot off the tip of his middle finger, and sped away, outdistancing the man but later crashing into a barricade.
Car salesman Philip Vandergraff, 35, was arrested in September on a battery charge after an incident at a Ford dealership in Atascadero, Calif. According to customer Jeff Walston, the two were haggling over a car purchase, and when Walston offered $5,000 less than Vandergraff’s price, Vandergraff punched him in the face. MTW