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First Things First

When a fire broke out at a restaurant in Orlando, Fla., during its popular Sunday brunch, some of the 135 customers stole tips off the table as they evacuated. Others left without paying, according to the Orlando Sentinel, and one man loaded his plate with food from the buffet so he could eat in the parking lot while firefighters fought the blaze.


Portent for Wall Street Victims

Indonesia's three-year-long economic crisis is driving people living in the capital insane, according to a Jakarta newspaper. "The number of psychotic people in Jakarta has almost tripled since the crisis," Endang W. Dunga, head of the city's social services office, told the Kompas daily. "Most of them are in a very bad condition in which they don't remember where they came from or who their families are. Many don't even remember their own names."


Toppling TVs

American children are twice as likely to be injured by falling television sets as they were five years ago, according to the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Carla DiScala of the New England Medical Center in Boston reviewed pediatric records from 1995 to 1995 and found that 183 children younger than 7 were admitted to the hospital after TV sets fell on them. Five of them died. DiScala blames the increase on large-screen sets, which can weigh up to 180 pounds and are proportionally heavier in the front, making them less stable.


Nickel and Dimed

When Texas District Court Judge Bill Harmon asked forensic psychiatrist Bruce Cohen to reduce the $63,100 bill he submitted for his work in a murder trial, Cohen obliged. His revised bill was for $61,100.


Role Model of the Week

Stephen Phillips, 46, a self-proclaimed Narcotics Anonymous success story and motivational speaker, was arrested while attending a weekend speaking engagement in Falmouth, Mass. Bristol County prosecutor Gerald FitzGerald said Phillips slipped out of the conference to pick up a package containing 53 pounds of marijuana. After his arrest, police searched his house and found another 48 pounds of marijuana. Narcotics Anonymous spokesperson Steven Sigman called Phillips's arrest "unfortunate," adding, "It sounds like this individual was not 100 percent in recovery."


Annals of Proctology

When Australian rugby player John Hopoate resigned in disgrace after receiving a 12-match suspension for jabbing his fingers into opposing players' anuses, the New Zealand Cancer Society used his photo to promote prostate cancer checks. The ad urging men not to ignore symptoms of the disease features a close-up photo showing Hopoate inserting his index finger into another player's anus and states the exam "won't hurt a bit -- promise."


Captive Audiences

Three inmates at Britain's Erlestoke prison said they hadn't planned to escape, but when they found a ladder propped against a wall and a car with its engine running on the other side, they couldn't resist. The Western Daily Press reported Robert Denvey, Frank Riorden and Samuel Kerrigan drove only a few miles before they crashed the car in a ditch, hailed a woman out walking and asked her to call the police to return them to prison.

Nikom Chanthakasem, 41, was supposed to be serving a 10-year sentence in a Thai prison when he was caught riding a motorcycle belonging to a guard. According to the Nation newspaper, investigators determined that Nikom had bribed guards to allow him to continue working as usual. He returned to his cell on some nights but spent most evenings with his mistresses.

Darrell Felton, 20, was accused of leaving the Greene County, Mo., jail by posing as his 17-year-old brother Matthew, who was in the same jail. When Matthew Felton's friends posted his bond, the older brother walked out. Officers discovered they had released the wrong man when Matthew Felton's friends came back to the jail and told them, then asked whether Matthew Felton could be released, hoping to free both men.


Lucky, Up to a Point

A German paraglider, who was caught in a freak gust of wind near Bregenz, Austria, fell nearly 5,000 feet into a tree. Rescue workers said the man escaped unhurt, but while walking away through the woods, he slipped and broke his shoulder.


Bladder Control

Carl Rennie Davis of Stourbridge, England, has invented a pissing contest for urinals in bar men's rooms. According to New Scientist magazine, a vertical row of lamps is controlled by a paddle wheel that is fitted with optical speed sensors and hidden in the waste pipe. The longer someone pees past the wheel, the more lamps light up. The electronics for a row of urinals can be linked so rivals can compete. Extra display boards can be mounted in the bar, so patrons can cheer on the challengers.

New waterless urinals at Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey, England, are being equipped with life-size images of bluebottle flies to control splash back by encouraging men to aim at them. Tests in Holland have shown the device increases accuracy and reduces messy spillage by as much as 80 percent.

Japan's Mainichi Daily News reported that $57 million is being spent to improve school lavatories in Neyagawa, Osaka. Improvements include heated toilet seats, bright lighting and warm water bidets. "We want to make school toilets the type of place where children want to go," Neyagawa's mayor, Yoshihiro Baba, said.

No Recount Needed

Even though James Epperson of Edwards County, Texas, ran unopposed in the Republican primary for his county commissioner seat, he was ruled ineligible to serve because he violated state election law by voting in the Democratic primary, making it illegal for him to run as a Republican.

From Bad to Worse

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, 47, cut off her fingertip when she slammed her right hand in a door at home. The Florida Republican told the Miami Herald that when she saw the blood, she passed out, suffering a black eye and a cut on her lower lip and chin when she fell on a tile floor.

Tax Dollars at Work

Britain's Carmarthenshire County Council issued a new road safety document that explains what daylight is: all other times than darkness. The document also defines pedestrians as road users on foot. "It looks like we're stating the obvious," Labor Party councilor Martin Morris said, "but perhaps there is some legal requirement."

  • All the strange news that's fit to print.

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