Bangkok economics student Panupol Sujjayakorn interrupted his studies in November to defend his World Scrabble Championship in London, one of many non-English-speaking competitors who achieved top-of-the-line ranking by memorizing up to 100,000 words in English without ever knowing their meanings. Like the others, reported the Chronicle of Higher Education, Mr. Panupol learned first those premium words that overuse the prominent Scrabble letter tiles like “aureolae.” Alas, this time around, a native English speaker, Dr. Adam Logan, a number theory researcher, won the title, building actual words like “qanat” and “euripi.”
CLICHES COME TO LIFE
In November in Murfreesboro, Tenn., U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs bureaucrats Joseph Haymond and Natalie Coker were charged with taking kickbacks from suppliers on government purchases of 100,000 rolls of red tape. The tape is distinctive, red “security” tape used on packages of VA pharmaceuticals. And according to a November Washington Post profile of federal examiner Russell Stormer, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has, since 1790, granted about 30,000 patents to people who have imagined unique ways to reinvent the wheel, or at least improve upon it.
MOST CONVENIENT AMBULANCE CHASE
In November, according to an Indianapolis Star report of a local accident, an SUV driver collided with another car, causing the SUV to crash into an office building, partially smashing through a wall. Among the building’s tenants: the personal-injury law firm Mitchell Hurst Jacobs & Dick, which specializes in automobile accidents.
BURN THAT FAN!
A bold weight-loss program of the Life of Life Healing Spa in Hong Kong involves actually setting fire briefly to the parts of the body holding the most fat, according to a December dispatch in London’s Daily Telegraph. According to owner Karen Chu, the fire follows an energy flow “reading,” full-body exfoliation, high-pressure hose spray, and herb-and-potion and alcohol rub-downs (but wet towels and a fire extinguisher are at the ready in case of problems). Chu said about 100 clients have undergone the treatment, with no complications, and the ones interviewed by the Daily Telegraph reporter praised the service. Chu said the treatment is based on traditional Chinese medicine, but a Hong Kong doctor interviewed by Agence France-Presse said, “I have never heard of such a thing.”
GUILTY DESPITE DEFORMITY
In November, engineering student Mischa Beutling, 22, became the most recent rape defendant to profess innocence by impossibility, arguing that his penis is simply too large to have committed the crime. Beutling, who stands 6-7 and weighs 240 pounds, called a urologist to the stand in Newmarket, Ontario, to testify that Beutling’s is 8 1/2 inches long “semi-relaxed” and 6 1/2 inches in circumference and that a woman who has not given birth could not accommodate it without serious injury. In December, a judge named Margaret Eberhard found Beutling guilty.
THIS HAPPENED IN UTAH?
The land developer Bigg Homes, creator of the Eagle Mountain community near Salt Lake City, touted in its online promotional materials the fact that the development’s “[b]lack race population percentage (is) significantly below state average.” After hearing complaints, Bigg co-owner David Adams removed the phrase in November, blaming the agency that designed Bigg’s materials. Whoever wrote the phrase must have thought that Utah’s “state average” of 1.3 blacks per 100 was somehow suffocating. MTW