2010-03-24 / News of The Weird



War is hell and so is the food

The day before British army chef Liam Francis, 26, arrived at his forward operating base in Afghanistan, the Taliban shot down the helicopter ferrying in food rations, and Francis realized he had to make do with supplies on hand. In his pantry were only seasonings, plus hundreds of tins of Spam. For six weeks, until resupply, Francis prepared “sweet and sour Spam,” “Spam fritters,” “Spam carbonara,” “Spam stroganoff” and “stirfried

Spam.” He told the Daily Telegraph

that he was proud of his work but admitted that “morale improved” when fresh food arrived. 

Questionable obsessions

. In November, Jim Bartek, 49, of Maple Heights, Ohio, announced he was ending his streak of 524 consecutive days in which he listened to the album Nostradamus by the heavy-metal group Judas Priest.

. In February, Hilary Taylor, 63, of Great Yarmouth, England, revealed that she had been bequeathed her uncle Ken Strickland’s collection of 3,000 watering cans. Strickland, who also kept meticulous records of the holdings, died in January. 

Crazy stuff in the animal world

. Pigs livin’ large: Among the items that celebrity farmer Cathy Gieseker bought with proceeds from the $12 million Ponzi scheme she, in February, was sentenced for perpetrating (prosecutors called her the “Midwest Madoff”) was a $900 tanning bed for her “show” pigs.

. Ashley Saks’ 2-year-old basset hound Roxy was resting comfortably in Jacksonville, Fla., in November following a vet’s removal, one by one, of the 130 nails she had compulsively swallowed.

. The polar bear Aisaqvaq produced two cubs in December at Quebec’s Zoo Sauvage de Saint-Felicien. Aisaqvaq had given birth to another the previous December, but had eaten it.

. In November, maritime rescuers were called to ocean waters off the coast of Darwin, Australia, to rescue an adult cow that was dog-paddling around and, according to a seaman, “not in a good mood.”

. Female cane toads are choosy at mating, according to a recent article in Biology Letters. A desirable male is permitted to hop onto the female’s back and start the process, but the female is also able to inflate sacs in her body to bloat herself so large that males slide off before completing insemination. (Also, to test the strength of the male’s grip, the researchers encouraged necrophilia: The scientists doused dead female toads with pheromones to measure males’ horniness.) (2) Female shortnosed fruit bats in China’s Guangdong Province show their preference for certain males by fellating them, according to an October journal article. Researchers observed that licked males were able to copulate longer, thus improving the likelihood of insemination. (The scientists also confirmed that bats mate while upside down.) 

22nd century already?

Later this year, manufacturer Organovo, of San Diego, will begin shipping its $200,000 ink-jet-type printers that create living organs for patients needing transplants. The 3-D “bioprinter” works by spraying extracted microscopic cells on top of each other, in pass after pass. On the bioprinter’s equivalent of a sheet of paper, and under laboratory conditions, the cells fuse together and grow for weeks until an organ substantial enough for research use is created (and ultimately, substantial enough for human transplants). The bioprinter is faster than growing such organs from scratch, which scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have been doing for several years. 

Unclear on the concept

In March, sheriff’s deputies in Kissimmee, Fla., detained a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was working undercover but who had aroused suspicions of residents of a neighborhood. After investigating, the deputies discovered that in order to guard his identity as an ICE agent, the

man was posing as an FBI agent. ( Orlando

Sentinel, March 4). 

Least-competent criminals

. Jonathon Smith, 27, was arrested in March in Fairbanks, Alaska, shortly after his release on bail on charges that he tried to buy three trucks from local dealers using forged checks. His latest arrest came at Seekins Ford, where, according to police, he was trying to buy yet another pickup truck with a forged check.

. Falmouth, Mass., police hired John Yarrington as a confidential informant on Feb. 16, setting him up with $100 in marked bills to make a cocaine buy from dealer Cory Noonan, which Yarrington completed. He left the scene, but less than 10 minutes later, before Noonan could be arrested, Yarrington returned and, according to police, attempted to buy more cocaine on his own. 

Undignified deaths

. A 36-year-old man drowned in Denville, N.J., in January during a friendly swimming competition with a pal, as they raced underneath a 30-yard long ice patch on partially frozen Indian Lake.

. New York City police believe that drug-gang hit man Hector Quinones, 44, shot three men to death in a high-rise apartment in December, but allowed a woman in the apartment to escape when he tripped on his own baggy pants while chasing her. As police arrived, Quinones climbed out onto the fire escape but accidentally fell off and broke his neck. 

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