Stranger Than Fiction 

Curses, foiled again

A 23-year-old burglar broke into a funeral home in Burjassot, Spain, but neighbors heard him forcing open the front door and called the police. He tried to fool officers by lying on a table in a glass-enclosed chamber used for viewings and pretending to be dead. His ruse didn't work, according to a local police official, because they saw him breathing. Plus, the official said, "The custom here is for dead people to be dressed in suits, in nice clothes that look presentable. This guy was in everyday clothes that were wrinkled and dirty."

Identity crisis

Authorities in India's Madhya Pradesh state had to dispatch police to break up a series of brawls between real eunuchs and fake ones. Many Indians believe eunuchs have supernatural power and pay them to offer blessings at weddings, baby showers, housewarmings, childbirths and other auspicious occasions. Asia Times Online reported that growing unemployment and poverty are prompting many intact Indians to dress and act like eunuchs to earn a living. The violence in Madhya Pradesh was sparked by eunuchs attacking fake eunuchs they saw begging on city streets. Ersatz eunuchs retaliated by murdering a legit eunuch in Jabalpur. Overwhelmed officials are considering issuing licenses to real eunuchs, although some question whether the government can pressure men or women to have their sex organs examined.

Undercover operator

A British court ordered retired engineer William Lyttle, 77, to pay $600,000 for structural repairs to his east London home. Lyttle, who the Daily Telegraph reported was named "Mole Man," spent four decades digging tunnels underneath his 20-bedroom house and then parked cars, boats and other items in them. In some places, the paper noted, all that kept the house from collapsing into the holes was "electrical appliances." Hackney council evicted Lyttle so workers could save the house, a neighbor's property and a sidewalk, all of which had been burrowed under.

Hand jobs

Interpreting sign language is riskier, from an ergonomic standpoint, than repetitive industrial jobs, including assembly line work, according to a study by the Rochester Institute of Technology. Researchers also found a direct link between an increase in the mental and cognitive stress of interpreters and an increase in the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and other musculoskeletal injuries. "Our findings indicate that interpreters may actually be at a higher risk of injury than other professions," RIT associate professor of industrial and systems engineering Matthew Marshall told Science Daily.

Avoirdupois follies

Broderick Lloyd Laswell, 19, an inmate in the Benton County, Ark., jail filed a federal lawsuit charging he is "literally being starved to death." Claiming to have lost 105 pounds after eight months behind bars awaiting trial for murder, the 6-foot, 308-pound Laswell insisted the jail doesn't provide enough food. "If we are in a small pod all day (and) do next to nothing for physical exercise, we should not lose weight," Laswell said, adding that about an hour after each meal, "I feel hungry again." His suit also complains that the jail serves only cold food.

Performance review

Women have given thumbs down to the erection drug Viagra, declaring they want men to use anti-impotence medication that lasts longer. New Zealand researchers found women preferred Cialis, which can help men achieve erections during arousal for 36 hours, to Viagra, which works for about four hours. The study is the first to gather women's views on the drugs' performance.

The best sex should last between seven and 13 minutes, and even three-minute sex is sufficient, according to a major survey of U.S. experts. The study, published in the international Journal of Sexual Medicine, is the first to review what the experts believe is the ideal length of time to have penetrative sex. Intercourse lasting between three and seven minutes was deemed "adequate," but anything less was "too short" and beyond 13 minutes was "too long."

Close enough

The New England Patriots are pursuing trademarks on the phrases "19-0" and "19-0 The Perfect Season," even though they ended last season 18-1 after a Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. Days before facing the San Diego Chargers for the AFC championship, the Patriots filed trademark applications, which, if approved, would allow the club to use the two phrases on a wide variety of toys, DVDs, clothing, sporting goods and other knickknacks. The team never withdrew the application and indicated on April 10 that it still wants the marks by amending its original filing to correct a misspelling and make it clear the team wants to sell toy banks, not "toy bans."

Food fight

Alfreda Van Bladel, 28, stabbed her husband in the shoulder with a steak knife, according to authorities in Orange County, Fla., after Anton Van Bladel grabbed a plate of hot dogs from her.

When chef Michael Garvin cooked his brother a shepherd's pie, John Garvin complained because the traditional English dish was not topped with sliced tomatoes. Michael argued that tomatoes were not an appropriate topping and hit John over the head with a shovel. The Daily Telegraph reported John then threatened to fire bomb his brother's Lancashire apartment and was arrested. John Garvin pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace and was fined $395 by District Judge Peter Ward, who told the defendant that, in his view, there was no need for tomatoes on a shepherd's pie.

Strange bedfellow

One of Australia's most senior conservative politicians admitted sniffing the chair of a female colleague shortly after she stood up. Troy Buswell, the leader of the opposition Liberal Party in Western Australia, had denied on at least 13 different occasions that he sniffed the woman's seat before he finally owned up to it. "All I can confirm is that the events described in the paper [West Australian] by the former female staffer are accurate," he said. Holding back tears at a news conference, Buswell admitted that his behavior before becoming party leader earlier this year had sometimes been highly offensive.


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