Lead Story

USA Today reported in July that doctors in China performed a direct internal-sex-organ swap between a man and a woman who were strangers to each other. The surgeons constructed all external sex organs, but another operation is necessary to complete the job. Neither person will be able to have kids.

Weird Science

New Zealand scientists studying tooth decay built a 20-inch glass mouth and fed it saliva and sugar to observe how plaque grows, but later reported a drawback in the experiment: massive halitosis.

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore laboratory in California recently produced “sea gel,” an edible paperlike substance made from seaweed that is lighter than air.

An Australian government research organization announced in December that it is on the verge of breeding sheep whose wool secretes insect-killing proteins that make it moth-proof. The same organization recently developed sheep with wool so loose it could be pulled off by hand.

Researchers from Central Washington University concluded recently that wild salmon are simply smarter than hatchery salmon, which are routinely caught for food. Hatchery salmon tend to try to fight currents and swim near the surface in packs and sometimes with their fins out of water; wild salmon are much more furtive. Meanwhile, scientists at the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife are currently at work developing a strain of stupid bass that will strike a lure with abandon.

Two Czechoslovakian scientists, writing in the August Journal of Addiction, reported on three patients addicted to carrots. The three had eaten so many carrots that their skin turned orange, and when they were deprived of carrots they experienced withdrawal symptoms.

Well Put

TV evangelist Robert Tilton, weary of having lawsuits filed against him by former followers who claimed to have paid him to revive dead relatives: “If you want to be mad at somebody, get mad at God; don’t sue me.”

A topless woman, interviewed by the New York Times while taking advantage of a state court of appeals ruling permitting nonlewd, noncommercial toplessness, said she thought the ruling would not have much impact: “There are a lot of things not conducive to being topless. You can’t run topless, you can’t barbecue topless, you can’t fry fish.”

Blaine Johnson, 22, who accidentally blew his right hand off while fooling around with the gunpowder from small rockets earlier this year in Mat-su-Borough, Alaska: “It was just something to do. We don’t have TV. When you live in the woods, you blow stuff up.”

Polish photojournalist Czarek Sokolowski, proclaiming his joy at the opening in June of the first McDonald’s restaurant in Warsaw: “I’ve been waiting for this day for 35 years. This is what we were fighting for.”

Creme de la Weird

Dexter Manley, who retired from the National Football League in December to play in Canada after failing his fourth drug test, told reporters in July that he talks personally to Mackenzie King, the deceased Canadian prime minister. “I’m sincere. Whether people believe me or not, my vision is real to me. I tell you I talked to [King]. We talked about thunder and lightning.”

Least Competent Police

At least three times this summer, in San Diego, Louisville, and Portland Oregon, police officers have not been able to prevent prisoners whose hands were cuffed behind them from commandeering squad cars and escaping. (One prisoner steered the car using his shoulders and chin.)

Undignified Deaths

Expert snake handler Larry Moor died very quickly in July after he was bitten by an Egyptian cobra in Vancouver, Canada. He had started an organization and staged classes to teach the public that they have nothing to fear from poisonous snakes. However, he had often said that only two snakes are really dangerous and that the Egyptian cobra is one of them.

Last June in Tempe, Arizona, a comedian with the stage name Joe Michaels died of a heart aneurysm during a performance. He was emceeing alive version of The Dating Game at Rowdy’s Bar when he collapsed and fell off the stage. According to an employee who rushed to help him, Michaels’s mumbled last words were, “Bachelor number one.”

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