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News Quirks 10.26.05 

Curses, Foiled Again Sheriff's deputies in Clarendon County, S.C., spent 18 hours looking for Gregory L. Mouzon, who they said robbed a gas station, then carjacked a 1996 Ford Taurus from an acquaintance who had driven him to the station. After receiving a tip that he was hiding at a residence in Manning, investigators saw a pile of clothes in a closet and picked up a teddy bear on top that felt unusually warm. Investigator Tommy Burgess found Mouzon underneath the pile, according to Chief Deputy Joe Bradham, who said that Mouzon "stuck his head up and said, 'Hello, Mr. Burgess.'"

- Hungarian police reported capturing an escaped convict because the fugitive used an online dating service. He posted his photo and arranged a date with someone who he thought was a woman. "At the place of the rendezvous," the police said, "the surprised man was caught, and that is when he realized that the woman with whom he had exchanged emails and for whom he brought a ring was actually a man and, on top of that, a detective."

Mind-Blower Women's brains shut down during orgasm, according to a Dutch study in which 24 couples, ages 19 to 49, were asked to stimulate each other while undergoing brain scans. "The main thing we saw in females," said University of Groningen neuroscientist Gert Holstege, who led the research, "is deactivation of the brain, which was unbelievable; really, very pronounced." Presenting the findings at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Copenhagen, Denmark, Holstege added that the study included men, but because the male orgasm during ejaculation takes such a short time -- typically 20 seconds -- it was difficult to obtain meaningful brain-scan data.

Land of the Setting Sun Japan's only tobacco producer responded to a survey showing that the percentage of Japanese adults who smoke had fallen to a record low by offering smokers gold bars, top-brand television sets and a movie preview. The gold bars, worth $72,500, and 26-inch liquid-crystal display TVs were awarded as part of Japan Tobacco's "Smart Smoke" campaign to promote the company's reduced-odor cigarettes. Japan Tobacco also hosted a smoker-friendly preview of the American action film Sin City for 75 Tokyo couples.

- Japan's Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank introduced slot games that run while customers are waiting for the bank's automated teller machines to process their transactions. Users who hit three straight 7s using the "stop" button on the ATM screen win 90 cents to cancel the customary transaction fee or a $9 jackpot if the slot machine shows a set of "gold" or "super gold" images. "We want our customers to enjoy a little excitement during the waiting time when they operate an ATM," a bank official said, pointing out that the odds are one in 10 for the fee cancellation and one in 500 for the cash jackpot.

Second-Amendment Follies Eighth-graders Nathan C. Woodard and Nathaniel A. Gorlin-Crenshaw spent seven months and $200 on a Massachusetts science-fair project to prove that BB guns can be deadly and shouldn't be used by children. Only to be disqualified because BB guns can be deadly and shouldn't be used by children. "The scientific review committee does not consider science projects involving firearms to be safe for middle-school students," Nancy G. Degon, co-chair of the science fair at Amherst Regional Middle School, explained.

Tech Woes Heavy use of BlackBerries, iPods and other hand-held electronics devices can cause painful ailments in the hand, wrist and arm, according to the American Society of Hand Therapists. The society warned that overuse syndrome, also known as "BlackBerry thumb," can cause tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other maladies.

A related condition is cubital tunnel syndrome, or "cellphone elbow," which is caused by bending the elbow for extended periods to hold cellphones to the ear. Symptoms include numbness and tingling in the ring and small fingers, elbow pain, burning or pain along the forearm that can make it difficult to type, write or button a shirt. Microsurgeon Dr. John Fernandez of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center said that severe cases require surgery.

Off the Rack Fashion-conscious women with surgically enhanced figures are spending a small fortune on alterations because their amplified features no longer fit the svelte silhouette dictated by many fashion houses. In regions where breast augmentation is most popular, such as Southern California, Texas and Florida, the wave of implants is skewing the selection of designer clothes sold at some stores, favoring sizes and styles more ample on top and creating a new market for alterations. "For women who love fashion, breast enlargements and designer dresses do not go together," Dallas boutique owner Brian Bolke told The New York Times. For example a woman who was a standard size 6 before surgery -- a 34.5-inch bust, 26-inch waist and 36.5-inch hips -- and whose implants increase her bust by two cup sizes, would need a size 10 dress. But because she remains slim through the waist and hips, the dress would have to be altered. "Either women are having dresses completely butchered," Bolke said, "or we're selling them separates with a top and a skirt in different sizes."

End of a Cover-Up After Alberto Gonzales replaced John Ashcroft as Attorney General, workers at the Justice Department removed the blue drapes that had covered two scantily clad statues in the department's ceremonial Great Hall for 3 1/2 years. The 12-foot, 6-inch female Spirit of Justice, who has one breast exposed and her arms raised, and the bare-chested male Majesty of Law have stood in the Great Hall since the 1930s. The drapes, costing $8000, were added in 2002 so Ashcroft could speak to the news media in the Great Hall without worrying that cameras would show a bare breast behind him.

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Roland Sweet

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Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.

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