Lead Stories

Schippers Bladel BV, a Dutch manufacturer of breeding devices for livestock, recently began selling a $27 vibrator that supposedly relaxes sows during artificial insemination. A sales manager at the company explained, “Once the vibrator is inserted, the pig’s ears will go up and she will stand ready to be serviced.” The company also makes a remote-controlled plastic pig whose scent, movements, and mating sounds are designed to arouse the sow.

Last month the Wall Street Journal reported that in 1987 Fidel Castro hoped to alleviate a chronic milk shortage in Cuba by getting his scientists to create miniature clones of the most productive cows so that every family could have one.

Compelling Explanations

In January literature professor James Miller of the University of Western Ontario testified at the child pornography trial of John Robin Sharpe in Vancouver, British Columbia, arguing that Sharpe’s self-published writings were comparable to the work of Dante and Charles Dickens. Miller described Sharpe’s book Sam Paloc’s Boyabuse: Flogging, Fun and Fortitude as “transgressive literature” that “celebrates, in a ritual way, alternative visions of culture” and “reveals the seismic ironies in the new world order associated with globalization.” Two months later a judge acquitted Sharpe of the charges pertaining to his writing but convicted him on two counts of possessing child porn photos.

Not My Fault

Last month in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Janice Taylor filed a suit against an obstetrician and two psychiatrists for their role in her 2000 stabbing attack against her four-year-old son and her unborn child. Taylor’s doctors had been reluctant to raise the dosage of her antipsychosis medication for fear it would harm her fetus, which became a minor concern after Taylor maimed the boy and plunged a knife into her own abdomen. The baby was born unharmed.

Last month Anita Durrett filed a wrongful death suit against an Albertson’s supermarket in Woodinville, Washington, alleging that two of its employees contributed to the death of her nine-year-old daughter. According to police, Durrett had shoplifted $266 worth of groceries and sped away in her car; the employees pursued her in another car, and the girl was killed when Durrett lost control and crashed at 90 miles per hour. Durrett, who’s been convicted of vehicular manslaughter, argues that the employees should never have chased her.

Latest Rights

In Italy, where more than a third of all men between ages 30 and 34 still live with their parents, an appeals court ruled in April that Marco Andreoli, a 29-year-old unemployed attorney, still has the right to be housed and financially supported by his parents. The son owns property and has access to a $200,000 trust fund, but he objected when his father cut off the $658 monthly allowance he’s received since his mother and father divorced.

Last month a landlord in Cornwall, Ontario, served eviction notices to born-again roommates Derrick Mitchell, 38, and Teresa Tafawa, 58, because neighbors have complained about their loud and frequent prayers. Mitchell says that his visions of local devil worship move him to speak in a high, quivering voice, which Tafawa calls “the ecstasies,” and that they may pray and sing for several hours a day, even in the laundry room and the parking lot. Tafawa explained, “We try to walk with the Lord all day.”

Thinning the Herd

In April a New Orleans school guard was accidentally shot to death by a colleague as they demonstrated their quick-draw techniques to one another outside a school dance….And last month in Los Angeles the gunman in a drive-by shooting, seated on the passenger side in a moving car, tried to fire out the left-hand window and accidentally killed his driver.

Our Civilization in Decline

Last month high school students in Palm Beach County, Florida, took a standardized state history test that required a score of only 23 percent correct answers for a passing grade and only 55 percent for an A….And that same month, parts of U.S. air force spy planes that should have been destroyed wound up in private hands through bureaucratic error and were put up for auction on eBay.

In the Last Month

In Leon, New York, three young Amish drivers were charged with traffic violations after their late-night buggy race ended in a collision with another Amish-driven buggy….And in Guelph, Ontario, a man settled down to sleep in his apartment and between the sheets found a three-foot-long snake left behind by a previous tenant.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611 or to newsweird@aol.com.

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