NewsQuirks 573

Curses, Foiled Again

Stefanos Konstantinidis, 41, and Evdoxia Hrysoulakis, 37, were charged with holding up the Mark Twain Diner in Union, N.J., after leading police on a 10-mile chase that ended when the suspects took a wrong turn and ended up in a state police parking lot.

Computer Games in Real Life

Seven-year-old Perley King used skills he learned playing a computer game to drive his sister's car three miles from his home in Tacoma, Washington, to a grocery store to buy cereal. Making the early morning trip while his family slept, Perley navigated busy streets by alternately stepping on the gas pedal and climbing on the seat to steer.

Japan's Trade Ministry announced that special export permits will be required for Sony‚s new PlayStation2 video game because it can be adapted for military use. The Asahi newspaper reported that parts of the toy resemble a small super computer in their ability to process high-quality images quickly -- a characteristic of missile guidance systems. The game is due in the United States this fall.

Role Models

A Pennsylvania grand jury indicted Matteo Picca, 40, for breaking the nose of his son's hockey coach with a stick. Picca explained he was angry because his son, whose team comprised boys 10 to 12 years old, was benched during a game.

Beth Rich of Wallace, N.C., admitted sending seven harassing, unsigned letters and a package that contained a Humpty Dumpty stuffed toy to the home of an 18-year-old boy who plays the same positions on his high school football and baseball teams as her son, who is a year younger and 50 pounds lighter.

HMO from Hell

Police in Hialeah, Fla., charged Oscar Alfredo Lopez with practicing dentistry from the back of his 1980 Ford Mustang, using unsterilized, home-made drills. Investigators said Lopez, a native of Guatemala with no dental or medical training, treated poor, Spanish-speaking patients who thought his fees -- $30 to $60 -- were a bargain.

Special Delivery

Social workers in Hamburg, Germany, have opened a facility where new mothers can leave their unwanted infants anonymously. The mother drops her baby through a chute at the center, where it slides down into a waiting crib. An alarm alerts the staff that a new child has arrived. (Reporting on the "baby bank," Reuters news agency noted that a similar service was offered in Hamburg in 1709, but the office closed after a year when people started dropping off older children.)


A computer at Riiser Energy ordered 100 gallons of heating oil delivered to Gregory Thornton of Merrill, Wis., even though Thornton had recently remodeled his basement and taken out the fuel tank. When the driver pumped the oil into a fill pipe outside the home, he said the oil flowed "like running water" all over the basement.

Mensa Rejects

A Miami jury acquitted former baseball star Pedro Guerrero, 43, of drug conspiracy charges after his attorney argued that he is too stupid to understand that he had agreed to a drug deal. Insisting his client was duped by a friend, defense lawyer Milton Hirsch pointed out that Guerrero, a four-time National League All-Star and co-MVP of the 1981 World Series who retired from baseball in 1992, has an IQ of 70 and can not perform simple tasks, such as writing a check or making a bed.

District of Columbia police Sgt. David Goodridge, 48, was convicted of stealing $1,600 worth of perfume during a raid, despite his defense that he acted out of stupidity. According to his attorney, Goodridge thought he was entitled to the perfume under an obscure D.C. law that allows police to seize perishable items. The prosecution pointed out perfume is not perishable and that the law was designed to preserve the value of perishable property for the owner, not provide good deals for police officers.

Cornell University researchers found that inept people are convinced they are smart, funny and correct, whereas people who have some ability tend to be more self-critical. The reason, according to Justin Kruger, co-author of the study, is that incompetents lack the ability to evaluate their performance realistically.

Gentlemen, Be Seated

Landlords of an apartment complex in Radeburg, Germany, issued a ban on men urinating while standing. The newspaper Bild reported the landlords complained that misdirected urine is causing their radiators to rust.

Carved in Stone

A handful of people in Erie, Pa., who bought bricks that were engraved with their names and messages, then placed along the city‚s waterfront starting in 1995, have asked the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority to remove the bricks or alter the messages. The requests are from people who included their lovers‚ names but whose relationships have since soured.

Disorder in the Court

When a jury in Fort Worth, Texas, cleared Robert Washington, 23, of murder, he did a celebration dance while his mother jumped up and exchanged high-fives with the people around her. Judge George Gallagher, who had warned the courtroom against any outburst before reading the verdict, cited both with contempt, sentencing the mother to 30 days in jail and Washington to six months. "It was as if he had caught the winning touchdown and spiked the ball in front of the defensive back," Gallagher said.

Really, Really, REALLY Upset

A dispute in Madang, Papua New Guinea, between Moropia Silkapi, 35, and Yakamup Makatu, 55, left Makatu's house burned to the ground. He retaliated by attacking Silkapi, but, according to Police Superintendent Ben Simanjob, Silkapi smashed Makatu's head with a rock, killing him. While villagers watched in horror, Simanjob said, Silkapi grabbed Makatu's body, tore out the eyes, heart and testicles of the victim and ate them.

An angry mob of 500 people in the popular Guatemala tourist village of Todos Santos Cuchuman attacked 23 Japanese sightseers with sticks and stones because the villagers had heard rumors the tourists were there to steal children. During the attack, the villagers smashed Tetsuo Yamahiro, 40, over the head with a rock, killing him, and burned tour bus driver Edgar Castellanos, 35, to death. Police said rumors persist in Mayan villages that foreigners abduct children, then sell them or their body parts, but no cases have been documented.

Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation‚s press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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