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News of the Weird

Roach Motel

At age 20, Kyle Kandilian of Dearborn, Mich., has created a start-up business to fund his college expenses, but it involves a roomful (in the family home) of nearly 200,000 cockroaches. The environmental science major at University of Michigan-Dearborn breeds species ranging from the familiar household pests, which he sells on the cheap as food for other people’s pets, to the more interesting, exotic Madagascar hissing roaches and rhino roaches, which can live for 10 to 15 years. (Kandilian told the Detroit Free Press in July that of the 4,000 cockroach species, only about a dozen are pests.) Why not choose a more conventional “pet”? Because “(m)ammals smell,” he said. (Missing from the Free Press story: details on the likely interesting initial conversation between Kyle and his mother when he asked if he could have 200,000 cockroaches in the house.)

Can’t Possibly Be True

• A 55-year-old woman in the Netherlands seemed to be experiencing orgasms emanating from her foot, she said, and Dr. Marcel Waldinger of Utrecht University (writing in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, online in June) produced a possible explanation. The applicable left foot nerve enters the spinal cord at about the same level as the vaginal nerve, Waldinger wrote, and the woman’s recent foot injury might have caused the nerves to cross. The woman reported “five or six” orgasms per day that felt exactly like “regular” orgasms and, she said, were making her feel terribly guilty and embarrassed. After treatment with a nerve anesthetic, she reported being orgasm-free (in the foot, at least) for eight months.

• The intersection of West Gateway Boulevard and North Congress Avenue in Boynton Beach, Fla. (pop. 60,000), is nine lanes wide, busy even at 11 p.m. on Sunday night, as it was at that time in July when a 2-year-old girl darted across, a combination of good fortune and sometimes-rare Florida driver alertness allowing her safe arrival on the other side without a scratch. “It’s a miracle,” said Harry Scott, who witnessed it. “I’m telling you the truth.” Mom Kayla Campbell, 26, was charged with felony neglect, as she appeared “oblivious,” said police, to the child’s absence from home.

• An unnamed restaurateur from Nagoya, Japan, has filed a lawsuit against an affiliate of the country’s largest organized crime syndicate, Yamaguchi-gumi, demanding a refund of “protection” money she had been paying for more than 12 years (in total, the equivalent of about $170,000). The affiliate, Kodo-kai, burned down a bar in 2010, killing people, in a similar protection arrangement that went bad, and the plaintiff said she, too, was threatened with arson when she decided to stop paying. According to an expert on Japanese “yakuza,” a relative of one of the victims of the 2010 fire may also sue Kodo-kai.

Unclear on the Concept

• In June, following his guilty plea in Corpus Christi, Texas, to possession of child pornography, Jose Salazar, 70, offered to perform public service to reduce the 12-year sentence a federal judge had handed him. Salazar said he “had a lot to offer society,” according to an Associated Press story, and could be “useful” in mentoring children.

• At Atherstone, England’s, Twycross Zoo, a program is underway to try to teach quarter-ton giant tortoises to speed up. An extended outdoor pen had been built for Speedy (age 70), Tim, 40, and Shelly, 30, but that meant it took a longer time to round them up for bed at the end of the day. The Leicester Mercury reported in June that zoo officials were trying to use the lure of food to get the tortoises to significantly improve their way-under-1-mile-per-hour gait.

• Actually, It Might Enhance the Experience: The British sex toy manufacturer Ann Summers issued a recall in June of a certain model of its popular Ultimate O Vibrator because of a problem with the electrical charger. The company said it was being cautious but that the risk of danger is low.


• Tina Marie Garrison, 37, and her son Junior Lee Dillon, 18, of Preston, Minn., were charged in June with stealing almost $5,000 worth of gopher feet from the freezer of a gopher trapper in Granger, Minn., and selling them for the local offered bounty of $3 per pair. Garrison, Dillon, and the victimized trapper were friends, and it was not clear why the thinly populated gopher-foot market would not have deterred Garrison and Dillon.

• Louann Giambattista, 55, a 33-year-veteran American Airlines flight attendant, filed a lawsuit against the company in July alleging that it had subjected her to baseless hassles because of co-workers’ accusations that, argued her attorney, were wrongly “making her out to be a nut.” One of the accusations was that she was “hiding rats in her underwear (and pantyhose) and sneaking them onto planes” based apparently on Giambattista’s hobby of raising pets at home. The airline has allegedly subjected her to enhanced security measures for more than a year, allegedly causing her post-traumatic stress disorder and “debilitating anxiety.”

Strange Old World

• The Best of the International Press: In July, the governor of Gorontalo province in Indonesia decreed that female secretaries should be replaced immediately with males. He was responding to a recent excessive spate of extramarital affairs by male bureaucrats with their female secretaries. (“[O]ld women who are no longer attractive” could also be hired, he said.)

People With Issues

• (1) Gerard Streator, 47, pleaded guilty in June in Waukesha, Wis., County Court to public lewdness and placed on probation after his arrest last year of going through the motions of intercourse with a discarded couch on a public street. An off-duty police officer thought initially that he had caught a couple, but on closer inspection, he realized Streator (who was aroused) was alone. (2) The day before, in Ostersund, Sweden, a 35-year-old man was arrested after a surveillance camera revealed him to be the one who repeatedly punctured Per Edstrom’s bicycle’s tires and who that evening was seen sitting on the bicycle pleasuring himself.

Undignified Deaths

• (1) A 28-year-old man was accidentally killed in Shelby, N.C., in April. Police say he had trespassed on a salvage lot at 5 a.m. and was underneath a wrecked car trying to steal a catalytic converter when the jack slipped, and the car fell on him. (2) A 42-year-old man was shot and wounded while on his front porch in Antioch, Calif., on Friday morning, June 28. He was treated and released, but then walked out on his porch the next morning and was again shot, this time fatally.

A News of the Weird Classic

• When Alcoa, Inc., prepared to build an aluminum smelting plant in Iceland in 2004, the government forced it to hire an expert to assure that none of the country’s legendary “hidden people” lived underneath the property. The elf-like goblins provoke genuine apprehensiveness in many of the country’s 300,000 natives (who are all, reputedly, related by blood). An Alcoa spokesman told Vanity Fair writer Michael Lewis (for an April 2009 report) that the inspection (which delayed construction for six months) was necessary: “[W]e couldn’t be in the position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people.” (Lewis offered several explanations for the country’s spectacular financial implosion in 2008, including Icelanders’ incomprehensible superiority complex, which convinced many lifelong fishermen that they were gifted investment bankers.)

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