NewsQuirks 418

IT HAPPENSLife on Earth began with microbes that entered the atmosphere as lumps of alien waste, according to astronomer Andrei Arkhipov of the Institute of Radio Astronomy in Kharkov, Ukraine. Writing in the journal "The Observatory," Arkhipov claimed that organisms buried deep within such waste matter would be well-protected from the rigors of interstellar travel, solving the age-old puzzle of how delicate chemicals like DNA needed for life managed to develop in the early Earth's hostile environment.CLEAN SWEEPOf 555 married couples asked "Would you rather have OK sex in a clean house or great sex in a dirty house?" for James Thornton's book, Chore Wars: How Households Can Share the Work and Keep the Peace, 31 percent of the women and 31 percent of the men said they wanted great sex in a dirty house. But 53 percent of the women and 56 percent of the men chose OK sex in a clean house.After a 25-year study of 1,000 children and their parents, researchers from the University of Michigan and Northwestern University concluded that children reared in clean homes grow up to earn more money than those raised in dirty dwellings. The study also found that sons and daughters who considered their parents homes "very clean" were better educated and earned more than their brothers and sisters who didn't think their homes were that clean.CUTTING EDGEBarber Timoteo Mahusay, 60, was arrested in the southern Philippine city of Iligan after he pulled out a pair of scissors while watching President Fidel Ramos inspect a new slaughterhouse. Press Undersecretary Marcelo Lagmay said there was no attempt on the life of the president, and Mahusay was later released.In Manila, Romeo Adrales grew tired of people teasing him about his bad haircut, so he returned to the barber shop and stabbed the barber to death. Adrales told the Philippine Star that he was especially angry because it was the second time the barber had given him a bad haircut.LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOTIn Turkey, Mehmet Esirgen, 52, tried to cure his sexual impotence by having a penis transplant -- using a donkey as the donor. The wire service Agence France-Presse reported that three times Esirgen brought home a donkey, amputated its sexual organs and appealed in vain for a doctor to perform the operation. Apparently the third time so annoyed his family that his son shot him in the leg. Esirgen announced that as soon as he recovered from the shooting, he intended to buy a fourth donkey.CULINARY CRIMESA domestic argument occurred in Pittsburgh when Michael Stefanowicz promised his wife manicotti for dinner but instead served spaghetti. "She called him lazy, and he called her a fat pig," said Lt. Gregory Tenos. Claiming her husband struck her, Mrs. Stefanowicz called her brother, James Shenkel, who showed up with a gun and tried to shoot Stefanowicz but hit the wall instead.In Brazil, Carlos Gomes, 32, tried to open a Sao Paulo bank safe by filling it with gas and lighting it, but the explosion was so powerful that it blew th e roof off the building, sending Gomes flying through the air. According to a police spokesperson, Gomes insisted to officers who arrested him as he tried to flee the scene that "the explosion took place while he was frying a steak in the kitchen."MUZAK FOR THE NOSEYuri Luzhov, the mayor of Mosocw, has inspired a new men's cologne: Mer (Mayor). According to the European, so many Russian women expect the scent to transform their good-for-nothing husbands into go-getters like Luzhov that perfume maker Novaya Zarya doubled the initial shipment to 20,000 bottles. It reported the middle-aged balding Luzhov's appeal lies in "his tireless efforts to turn the once-drab Eastern bloc capital into a thriving metropolis." Novaya Zarya said Luzhov chose the scent himself and helped with packaging ideas, noting the square bottle with round silver cap evokes "the broad shoulders of a man able to build a home and be responsible for what happens in it."After studies in Japan and elsewhere showed that certain odors can increase the efficiency of workers and reduce their stress levels, London's weekly Observer reported that some Tokyo companies have begun pumping fragrances through their office air-conditioning systems. What's more, a survey of British companies found that 40 percent support scenting the workplace, and the Observer said the company BOC Gases wants to cover the public areas of London workplaces with a "corporate aroma."CLIMBING THE FAMILY TREEChildless couples in a remote jungle region of Borneo have been stealing orangutan babies from a nature park to raise as their own. Edwin Bosi, who runs the Sepilok rehabilitation center for orangutans, said three or four of the apes disappear every month, adding that some of the animals have turned up in the nearby homes of plantation workers, who shave the animals' body hair to make them look more human.CURE WORSE THAN DISEASE"Urinary stress incontinence," which causes 11 million women to leak urine when laughing, exercising, or performing other day-to-day tasks, can be reduced or eliminated with "electric stimulation" therapy, according to researchers at Northwestern University. They reported that two or three months of daily electrical shocks will strengthen pelvic muscles.EVERYONE'S A CRITICWhen the city of Birmingham, Ala., informed folk artist Lonnie Holley that it was buying his home to expand the Birmingham International Airport, he figured all the immovable sculpture in his quarter-acre yard made the place worth about $500,000. After all, his museum-quality creations, made from junkyard scraps, sell for thousands of dollars and have been displayed in the Smithsonian Institution and the White House. A real estate commission inspected the property, saw the works and offered $14,000. Holley protested, then agreed to take at least $250,000, but a condemnation appeal commission said the city's original offer was a fair price for the land and a run-down house, ruling that the lawn art amounted to nothing more than worthless junk.Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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