NEWS OF THE WEIRD

EXPLOITING VILLIANS

In February, two teams of South Korean researchers announced cancer-fighting breakthroughs — by taking lessons from how two of medicine’s most vexing, destructive organisms (diarrhea-causing salmonella bacteria and the rabies virus) can access often-unconquerable cancer cells. In journal articles, biologist Jung-joon Min of Chonnam National University described how his team “weaponized” a cancer-fighting invader cell with salmonella to stir up more-robust immune responses, and nanoparticle expert Yu Seok Youn’s Sungkyunkwan University team coated immunizing cells with the rabies protein (since the rabies virus is remarkably successful at invading healthy cells) to reach brain tumors. [ArsTechnica, 2-9-2017] [Science Magazine, 2-10-2017]

UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT

Michigan is an “open carry” state, and any adult not otherwise disqualified under state law may “pack heat” in public (except in a few designated zones). In February, an overly earnest Second Amendment fan, James Baker, 24 (accompanied by pal Brandon Vreeland, 40), believed the law was an invitation to walk into the Dearborn police station in full body armor and ski mask, with a semi-automatic pistol and a sawed-off rifle (and have Vreeland photograph officers’ reactions). (Yes, both were arrested.) [Detroit Free Press, 2-6-2017]

NEWS THAT SOUNDS LIKE A JOKE

Ex-Colombo family mobster and accused hitman “Tommy Shots” Gioeli, 64, recently filed a federal court lawsuit over a 2013 injury at the Metropolitan Detention Center in New York City. He fell and broke a kneecap while playing ping-pong (allegedly because of water on the floor), awaiting sentencing for conspiracy to commit murder. The New York Post also noted that the “portly” Gioeli, who was later sentenced to 18 years, was quite a sight at trial, carrying his “man purse” each day. [New York Post, 2-7-2017]

THE CONTINUING CRISIS

Compelling Explanations: (1) Oklahoma state Rep. Justin Humphrey, justifying his proposed bill to require a woman seeking an abortion to first identify the father, told a reporter in February that the father’s permission is crucial because, after all, the woman is basically a “host” who “invited that (fetus) in.” (2) After the North Dakota House of Representatives voted yet again in January to retain the state’s Sunday-closing “blue laws,” Rep. Bernie Satrom explained to a reporter: “Spending time with your wife, your husband, making him breakfast, bringing it to him in bed” is better than going shopping. [The Intercept, 2-13-2017] [Valley News Live (Fargo) , 2-1-2017]

NEWS YOU CAN USE

“Fecal transplants” (replacing a sick person’s gut bacteria with those of a healthier one) are now almost routine treatments for patients with violent abdominal attacks of C. diff bacteria, but University of California researcher Chris Callewaert says the concept also works for people with particularly stinky armpits. Testing identical twins (one odoriferous, the other not), the researcher, controlling for diet and other variables, “cured” the smelly one by swabbing his pit daily with the sweat of the better-smelling twin. The Callewaert team told a recent conference that they were working on a more “general” brew of bacteria that might help out anyone with sour armpits. [New Scientist, 2-10-2017]

GREAT ART!

French artist Abraham Poincheval told reporters in February that in his upcoming “performance,” he will entomb himself for a week in a limestone boulder at a Paris museum and then, at the conclusion, sit on a dozen bird eggs until they hatch — “an inner journey,” he said, “to find out what the world is.” (He apparently failed to learn that from previous efforts, such as the two weeks he spent inside a stuffed bear or his time on the Rhone River inside a giant corked bottle.) He told reporters the super-snug tomb has been thoroughly accessorized, providing for breathing, eating, heart monitor and emergency phone — except, they noted, nothing on exactly how toileting will be handled. [The Guardian (London), 2-21-2017]