by Chuck Shepherd

• But what if the device fallsinto the wrong hands? A 55-yearoldBritish man whose bowel wasruptured in a nearly catastrophictraffic accident has been fitted witha bionic sphincter that opens andcloses with a remote controller.Ged Galvin had originally endured13 surgeries in a 13-week hospitalstay and had grown frustratedwith using a colostomy bag untilsurgeon Norman Williams of theRoyal London Hospital proposedthe imaginative operation. Dr. Williams,who was interviewed alongwith Galvin for a November feature inLondon’s Daily Mail, wrapped a muscletransplanted from Galvin’s leg aroundthe sphincter and attached electrodes totighten or loosen the muscle’s grip.Unreformed healthcare system• The Wisconsin Department ofCorrections decided in October that it(i.e., taxpayers) should fund complexfacial reconstruction surgery for inmateDaryl Strenke, who is serving 30 yearsafter pleading guilty to murdering hisgirlfriend. Strenke had shot himself in theface in apparent remorse for the killing,severely disfiguring his mouth and jawand making it nearly impossible for himto eat or speak normally.Britain’s safety weenies• (1) In November, the Solihull Councilin Britain’s West Midlands countyordered a flooring store to remove thefestive balloons it had pinned out frontto attract business, calling them hazards.One councilor explained that drivers maybe distracted by the colors, and anotherwas concerned that if a balloon cameloose, it might possibly float into trafficand lure a child to follow it. (2) In October,Britain’s Association of Chief PoliceOfficers prepared a guidebook of instructionsfor bicycle-duty officers on how toride a bike. The book was 93 pages long,containing such assistance as a diagramon how to turn left orright (“deploymentinto a junction”).(Following widespreadridicule, theassociation decidedin November not torelease it.)•Examiners fromBritain’s Health andSafety Executive,inspecting bowlingalleys for hazards,considered recommendations(accordingto a November Daily Mail report)that included erecting barriers over thelanes to prevent bowlers from wanderingthe alleys and perhaps getting caughtin pin-setting machines or, feared oneinspector, bowlers injuring themselvestrying to knock over pins by hand. Thebarriers would leave space for the ball toroll under.The science of sex• Wake Forest University’s Institute ofRegenerative Medicine, which has successfullygrown human bladders in the labusing only a few extracted cells sprayedonto a chemical frame that mimics thebody’s tissues, has so far been unsuccessfulat regenerating penises becauseof the organ’s complexity. However, itannounced in a November journal articlea success with rabbit penises. Four ofthe 12 rabbits with lab-grown phallusessuccessfully impregnated females, and inan unexpected finding, the new penisesappear not to lessen sexual desire, in thatall 12 of the rabbits began mating withinone minute of meeting females.• Occasionally, people lose theirshort-term memory following vigoroussex, according to doctors interviewed fora November CNN report on “transientglobal amnesia.” The condition occurs becauseblood flow to the brain is restrictedby the strenuous activity, temporarilydisabling the hippocampus from recordingnew memory. One sufferer, “Alice,”recalled her experience, recounting howshe initially cracked a joke about beingunable to remember how good the sexwas that she just had, and then supposedlyrepeated the joke over and over, each timeas if she had just thought of it.Common sensetakes a vacation• (1) Three men were convicted inAugust in Kansas City, Mo. of havingconvinced “numerous” customers to buy3-inch-by-4-inch laminated “diplomat”cards that, promoters said, would legallyfree them from ever having to pay taxesor being arrested for any crime. Accordingto the FBI, customers ponied upfees ranging from $450 to $2,000 to getthe cards. (2) Dr. Yehu Azaz, a wealthy,respected physician, gave up his career in1991 and gave away all of his possessions,coming under the spell of guruRena Denton’s spiritual healing center inSomerset, England. In a 2009 lawsuit torecover his wealth, Azaz said that despitebeing an educated professional, he did notrealize what he had done until 2003 becausehe had been brainwashed (“undulyinfluenced”) by the aged guru. (A judgetossed out his lawsuit in July.)Must be somethingabout septic systemsAfter six years of total obstinacy, Janetand Lowell Carlson finally agreed inOctober to upgrade their farm’s septicsystem in Camden Township, Minn. Untilthen, the couple had ignored numerous inspections,sheriff’s visits and court orderseven though a new system had alreadybeen paid for (by escrow funds left by theowner who sold them the farm). The Carlsons’inspiring principle throughout thesix years of living with failed plumbingwas to challenge the county for its “inconsistent”enforcement of septic upgrades.• Scottish pig farmer Peter Roy, 72, isembroiled in a long-standing dispute withthe Perth and Kinross Council over whohas the responsibility for repairing thesewage system on his farm in Craigmuir,but has taken a more hardcore approachthan the Carlsons. He has saved his sewagein oil barrels stored on his property(now numbering about 80) to the outrageof neighbors. Roy has also periodicallystepped up his protests to include leavingfull barrels around town.People withtoo much money’ • After Nicolas Cage filed a lawsuitagainst him for mismanaging the actor’smoney, Cage’s former business managerSamuel Levin filed his defense in November,charging Cage with creating his ownproblems by disregarding Levin’s budgetaryadvice. According to Levin, Cage’s2007 purchases included three houses(costing $33 million), 22 cars (includingnine Rolls-Royces) and 47 works of art.By 2008, said Levin, Cage owned 15houses, four yachts, a Gulfstream jet andan island in the Bahamas. Least competent criminals• Better planning needed: (1) BrierCutlip, 22, and Paul Bragg, 25, who wereon parole and prohibited from possessingfirearms, were re-arrested in December inElkins, W.Va. when they showed up fora parole appointment. However, they hadjust come in from a day of hunting andwere still wearing orange vests, alertingthe parole officer to the fact that they hadbeen firing guns all day. (2) GrandvilleLindsey, 30, on probation in Beaumont,Texas after a child-sex conviction andprohibited from visiting any “social” websites,was re-arrested in November whenhe sent a Twitter alert to a woman he hadmet while in the probation office, askingto include her as an online “friend.”Things you thoughtdidn’t happen• British Museum officials announcedin September that the hoard of 7th centuryAnglo-Saxon gold and silver treasurediscovered on land in Staffordshire (atleast 1,500 pieces, including crosses andparts of helmets and daggers) would takea year to evaluate fully but could be worth“many times” the 1 million pounds ($1.6million) archaeologists initially estimated.The treasure was discovered by an unemployed55-year-old man using one of thewidely ridiculed, hand-held metal detectorsthat beachcombers favor to recoverloose coins in the sand.A News of the Weird classic(April 2001)’ • Hillsborough, England was the siteof a soccer stadium disaster in 1989, inwhich 96 fans were crushed to death. InMarch 2001, the government revealedthat a police officer who worked atthat site beginning in 1998 nonethelessacquired post-traumatic stress disorderfrom continually imagining the 1989carnage and for that received a disabilitysettlement from the government ofthe equivalent of about $560,000. Thatamount, according to a report in London’sGuardian, is more than 100 times whatwas paid to any of the families of the 96people who were killed at the site.Copyright 2009 Chuck ShepherdDistributed by Universal PressSyndicate !