Lead Story

According to University of Arizona biologist John Alcock (interviewed for a Knight Ridder story in August), the longest-lasting copulation in the animal kingdom is that of the stick insect, which can go on for several months. The male stick insect, about half the size of the female, attaches himself to his partner’s back during the process, leaving her free to search for food. In the same article another scientist mentioned that tick foreplay can last eight hours.


The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported in September that Elsie, a six-month-old Saint Bernard puppy, was doing fine after surgery at an animal hospital in Fort Lauderdale. Because Elsie had seemed depressed, her owner had taken her to the vet; an X-ray revealed a 13-inch serrated carving knife, apparently swallowed handle first by the dog a few days earlier, lodged between her esophagus and stomach.

Things People Believe

In September, Scott Stevens resigned after nine years as chief weather forecaster for KPVI TV in Pocatello, Idaho, so he could devote more time to researching and exposing what he says is the manipulation of U.S. weather by hostile foreign organizations. On his Web site Stevens asserts that Hurricane Katrina was caused by a Russian-made electromagnetic generator wielded by the yakuza in retaliation for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; suspicious cloud patterns in recent years are, he says, only part of the “unmistakable” evidence that “our weather has been stolen from us.” Station manager Bill Fouch said he’d miss Stevens and praised the accuracy of his forecasts.

Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph reported in June on the growing number of Australian businesspeople who are seeking guidance from experts in the occult and the paranormal. Psychic Sally de Beche advises clients based on her “holographic images” of the business cycle; Stacey Demarco, a PR consultant turned pagan (and author of the book There’s a Witch in the Boardroom), helps her clients form business networks, or, as she prefers to call them, “covens.”

Motorists vs. Appliances

A 28-year-old man was hospitalized in Elkhart, Indiana, in August after he crashed his motorcycle into a refrigerator that had been left in the middle of the street. And a driver was hospitalized in Madison, Wisconsin, in July after he veered off the road and plowed into a dishwasher that had been left on the sidewalk.

Least Competent Criminals

Cutting corners: Sonja Aguirre, 18, and an underage female attracted the attention of a police officer in Greenwood Village, Colorado, in March when they decided to park in a handicapped space. Upon investigation, police said, officers found that the car (a) had been reported stolen in New Mexico and (b) contained 265 pounds of marijuana. In July the Florida Highway Patrol reported the discovery of 550 pounds of marijuana in an SUV driven by Edgar Galvan, 28, and Jose Clark, 27, after troopers pulled them over in Orlando for having an expired license plate. And according to police in Dayton, Ohio, in August, a man and an underage male who were apparently planning to rob local marijuana growers were arrested beforehand when they tried to save some disguise money by shoplifting panty hose from a drug store.


Robin Bartleman, member of the school board in Broward County, Florida, explaining in July why signs prohibiting running got posted at 137 local elementary school playgrounds: “To say ‘no running’ on the playground seems crazy, but your feelings change when you’re in a closed-door meeting with lawyers.” The costume designer for the upcoming movie Superman Returns, explaining her toughest problem to Newsweek in September: “There was more discussion about Superman’s ‘package’ than anything else on the suit. Was it too big? Was it not big enough? Was it too pointy? Too round?” And the slogan used by the Tomamasu company, located in southern Japan, to sell its product Kidsbeer–a nonalcoholic cola that looks and foams like beer–to its target audience of children, according to a Japan Times report in July: “Even kids cannot stand life unless they have a drink.”

Paranormal Blues

According to an August report in London’s Guardian, British UFO sightings have fallen dramatically in the last few years. Prominent extraterrestrial watchers in Cumbria County, in northwest England, said there had been a drop from 40 local sightings in 2004 to none in the first seven months of 2005. Possible explanations included a post-9/11 shift in focus to terrestrial threats, as well as the demise of the TV series The X-Files. Also in August, British bookmakers told Independent Television News that betting action on whether Elvis Presley is alive has almost completely disappeared. Said bookie Rupert Adams, “It is perhaps the end of an era.”

Sweat in the News

In August, Britain’s Ministry of Defense announced it would equip its soldiers stationed in hot-weather climates with high-tech underwear designed to prevent sweating and resist germs. Also in August, the Fresno Bee reported on Christopher Viney, a professor at the University of California at Merced who collects hippopotamus sweat (a reddish, mucuslike secretion) and studies its molecular structure, seeing possible applications in the development of sunscreens, bug repellents, and antiseptics.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.