GOOD OL’ BOY
A miles-long traffic jam on Interstate 20 near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Jan. 25 and on into the next morning was caused by an 18-wheeler that jackknifed and overturned when the 57-year-old driver took his hands off the wheel to pull out a tooth with his fingers. Efforts to haul the truck from the roadside required an hours-long detour of traffic off of the interstate. (The driver’s mission was successful; he had the tooth in his pocket when rescued.)
UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT
Luis Moreno Jr., 26, was pursued by police in Fort Lee, New Jersey, after he entered the carpool lane approaching the George Washington Bridge in January because he appeared to be alone in his SUV. After ignoring several signals to pull over, he finally stopped and, when informed of his offense, told the officer, “I have two passengers in the back” and rolled down a window to show them (in the vehicle’s third row), apparently satisfying the officer. However, as Moreno pulled away, one passenger began screaming and banging on the back door. Moreno sped off with his hostages, but was subsequently stopped again and charged with kidnapping and criminal restraint (but no HOV violation!).
Briton Roberto Collins, 51, was sentenced to 13 months in jail by Manchester Crown Court in January after being caught standing on a ladies’ room toilet and peering into the next stall. He told police he stood up only to better scratch an itch and was in the ladies’ room only because, wearing faulty glasses, he thought it was the men’s room. And Scotsman Dean Gilmartin, 25, actually persuaded a judge at Perth Sheriff Court in January of his “innocence”–that he might not have been masturbating at the front window of his home. He admitted he was nude (changing clothes), but pointed out that he plays musical instruments and was probably just picking out tunes on his ukulele (rather than “holding” his genitals and moving “side to side,” as a neighbor had charged).
Poet Les Merton, 70, denied in January that he had ever abused children, but had a more difficult time explaining why a child-porn website had his credit card information. Merton holds the appointed title of Cornish bard in Cornwall, England, and is the author of the Official Encyclopedia of the Cornish Pasty. He explained in Truro Crown Court that he must have mindlessly entered his credit card information while researching the 19th-century Russian figure Rasputin.
WHAT RESEARCHERS DO
“Entomologists are not like other people,” Wired.com reported in January, revealing that two of them had “proudly” issued “birth” announcements for the “Human bot fly” whose larvae one had let gestate beneath his skin for two months. Scientist Piotr Naskrecki and photographer Gil Wizen had been inadvertently bitten while on assignment in Belize and decided the egg-laying “attack” on a human was an important opportunity for research. After all, Naskrecki said, he had never seen an adult bot fly “crawl out” of its host.
NEW WORLD ORDER
Last year in Middle East school markets, the worldwide publishing giant HarperCollins was selling a popular atlas whose maps pretended there was no such country as Israel. The space that is Israel was merged into Jordan, Syria and Gaza. The company said it was merely honoring “local preferences” of potential atlas purchasers, whom HarperCollins presumed were Arabs wishing that Israel did not exist. (In January 2015, the company finally changed course, publicly “regretted” its decision and recalled all existing stock.)
Montanan John Abarr told the Great Falls Tribune in November that his Rocky Mountain Knights of the Ku Klux Klan opposes the “new world order” pushing a “one government” system on the planet–but also stands against discrimination based on race, religion or sexual orientation. “White supremacy is the old Klan,” he said. “This is the new Klan” (except that, he said, robes and hoods will still be required, along with “secret rituals”).
THE NEW NORMAL
In January, Mittens the kitten and Charcoal the Chihuahua mix made news as hermaphrodites whose veterinarians had recommended which gender the since-adopted strays should retain. Mittens, of the town of Heart’s Desire, Newfoundland, was scheduled for “gender assignment” surgery to become solely male, and Charcoal, of Boise, Idaho, is recovering from mid-January surgery to leave her exclusively female. News reports did not disclose why “male” was chosen for Mittens, but the doctor said correcting Charcoal’s pre-surgery problem, urination, would be less stressful as a female.
FINE POINTS OF THE LAW
The Supreme Court of Canada turned down Joel Ifergan’s appeal in January, leaving his winning-number lottery ticket from 2008 worthless. He had bought two tickets seconds before the 9pm deadline on May 23 of that year, and the tickets had started to print on the store’s machine, but only the first one carried that day’s date. By the time the second one–with winning numbers for the $27 million jackpot–had gone through the lottery’s central computer system and back to the store’s printer, the program had already kicked over to the following day and to the next week’s drawing.