NewsQuirks 449

Land of the Setting SunWhen the Japanese government asked 520 newly hired civil servants whom they would most admire as a boss, the number-one answer was Genghis Khan. Finishing second to the Mongolian warrior, who lived from about 1162 to 1227, was baseball manager Akira Ohgi. Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto came in ninth. Noting this was the first time since the survey began in 1991 that a non-Japanese topped the list, Katsushi Koizumi, a spokesperson for the National Personnel Authority, explained that many young workers regard Genghis Khan as "a man of organization who achieved a united Mongolia, rather than just a conqueror."Everyone's a VictimNew York City police officer Willis Stough, 27, was charged with asking another man to shoot him, then falsely reporting that he had been shot by a stranger. The gunshot hit his shoulder and was deflected by his collarbone into one of his lungs, which collapsed. Although the indictment gave no motive for Stough's action, investigators said he figured a wound would let him leave the force with a disability pension.After computer specialist Thomas W. Passmore, 33, cut off his right hand and refused to let surgeons reattach it, claiming it was possessed by the devil, he filed a $3 million lawsuit against a Norfolk, Va., hospital and the attending physician for following his instructions. He insisted they should have known he was psychotic and obtained a court order to reattach the hand. Passmore further testified that since the incident, he has had trouble finding work as a computer programmer and his keyboard skills have eroded.Donald Hunt, 20, a Louisiana State University student who nearly died after a night of drinking that killed a fellow fraternity pledge, filed a lawsuit against the school, the fraternity and the bar where they drank. He charged the three defendants with not doing enough to keep him from nearly drinking himself to death.Art for Art's SakeResearchers at the National Institutes of Health Animal Center gave clay spheres, stones, paint and leaves to 10 capuchin monkeys. Within 30 minutes, the monkeys had reshaped the clay with their hands and decorated it with paint and leaves. According to New Scientist magazine, the animals may have awakened their creative urge by not having to spend time hunting for food or looking out for predators. "They were very focused when they were making them," researcher Gregory Westergaard said. "Art doesn't happen unless you are smart, and I think such expressions are the inevitable consequence of an intelligent but restless mind."School DazeHeavy school bags could be jeopardizing the posture of Chinese students, according to a study at Beijing's Zhonghualu primary school, where bags weighed between 5.5 and 13.5 pounds because of the number of exercise books that pupils must carry. The problem isn't just that the bags are too big, according to the Beijing Review, but also that their school desks are too small. As a result, pupils have to put the bags on the seat of their chairs, leaving themselves to perch uncomfortably on the edges. The report concluded that long periods of sitting this way "result in deformation of the spine."Living Up to Its NameThe French town of Condom has stopped lamenting the ridicule its name evokes among English-speaking visitors, who pass through just to have their picture taken next to the town sign. Instead, Mayor Gerard Dubrac announced the town will try to attract 200,000 to 300,000 visitors a year by building a museum devoted to contraceptive devices used through history. Dubrac said the anticipated 1,800 sex-related items on display will make Condom the "condom capital of the world."Heavy DutyDrug traffickers may be done in by the weight of their profits, according to law enforcement officials. "If we assume a conservative figure of $50 billion for all illicit drugs sold in the United States, the amount of illicit currency produced by those sales weighs almost 13 million pounds," Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mary Lee Warren told Congress, pointing out that the drug traffickers' need to move huge volumes of cash "could provide law enforcement with perhaps its best opportunity to target these illicit proceeds." The volume of cash and the government's disruption of sophisticated money laundering strategies have forced Mexican and Colombian drug cartels to ship actual cash directly to their home countries, often by stashing it in furniture and appliances.Too Much PepCheerleading can be riskier than playing football, according to researcher Dr. Mark R. Hutchinson of the University of Illinois at Chicago. His report in the journal "The Physician and Sportsmedicine" noted that the football players are injured more frequently, but cheerleaders "lose more than five times as many days to injury."Son of Soup NaziA Korean restaurateur who hopes to develop English proficiency among his patrons gives discounts of 10 to 50 percent if they speak English while dining. Those who resort to their native language, however, are banished to a special section for violators.Freedom of ChoiceAllen Fahden, 51, opened a bookstore in Nicollet mall in downtown Minneapolis that stocks 5,000 books -- all copies of the same title, "Innovation on Demand." Fahden explained he spent 14 years writing the book, but when no publisher would take a chance on it, he decided to publish it himself. He opened his store, READdundant, in December 1995 with a simple operating philosophy: "More books? Hey, we like the one we have."More Cause to WorryA predator fish that suddenly and mysteriously appeared in rivers and streams in western Ukraine is rapidly consuming all other marine life, according to the Itar-Tass news agency. When local fishermen tried to test the rotan fish's ability to survive, they pulled a few of them from the water and left them in the open air. The next day, they threw the fish into an aquarium, where they revived. The agency reported that the rotan which regained control of its body first ate up the rest.Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306. Fans of quirky news will enjoy the newest collection, "More Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest" by John J. Kohut & Roland Sweet (Plume paperback).

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