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News Quirks 

Published May 19, 2010 at 9:14 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Robby Rose pleaded guilty to felony cheating in a fishing tournament in Rockwall County, Texas, after he was caught stuffing a 1-pound lead weight into a bass to try to win top prize: a bass boat. Tournament officials became suspicious when they placed the fish in a holding tank before weighing it, and it sank to the bottom. “As far as we’re concerned, the case was about a $55,000 boat,” county prosecutor Kenda Culpepper said, “not a 10-pound fish.” (NBC News)

Police arrested a 44-year-old man for DUI after he drove his pickup truck onto a racetrack in Bremerton, Wash. Officers were already on the scene, using the track to conduct emergency vehicle training. (Kitsap Sun)

Unfriendly Skies

Europe’s Ryanair confirmed it intends on charging passengers to use the restroom on flights lasting an hour or less. The coin-operated lavatory will cost either 1 euro or 1 pound. The airline also plans to reduce the number of restrooms. “By charging for the toilets, we are hoping to change passenger behavior so that they use the bathroom before or after the flight,” Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said. “That will enable us to remove two out of three of the toilets and make way for at least six extra seats.” (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Schoolwork in Later Life

After a camera caught his wife running a red light in Collier County, Fla., math tutor Mike Mogil insisted the ticket was illegal because the yellow light didn’t last long enough. County guidelines state the yellow light should be 4.5 seconds, but Mogil tested it 15 times and found it averaged only 3.8 seconds. He challenged the ticket, and a special magistrate dismissed it. Not content to stop there, Mogil said he checked 65 of the county’s 200 intersections with red-light cameras and found that only seven yellow lights are long enough. (Southwest Florida’s WBBH-TV News)

Weekend at Bernie’s IV

British authorities arrested two women at Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport for trying to board a flight to Germany with a dead man in a wheelchair wearing sunglasses. When check-in staff questioned Gitta Jarant, 66, she assured them her 91-year-old husband, Willi, was just resting and had on sunglasses because he wanted to spare passengers from looking at an unsightly eye. Told he was indeed dead, she insisted he’d been alive when they arrived at the airport. The other woman, Willi Jarant’s stepdaughter, agreed. “He was pale,” Anke Anusic, 41, said, “but he wasn’t dead.” (New York Times)

Perpetual Motion

Noting that cows walk about eight hours a day while grazing, Irish farmer William Taylor calculated that if the world’s 1.3 billion cattle used treadmills for those eight hours, they could produce 6 percent of the world’s power. To that end, he developed the Livestock Power Mill, which consists of a feed box hooked to the front, a nonpowered, inclined belt, and a gearbox that powers a generator. Each cow can produce 2 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power four milking machines. Taylor, who operates a prototype on his farm in Northern Ireland, estimates that a small farm using the system for 50 cows could earn back its $100,000 price tag in three years. (Popular Science)

Inmates at Tent City Jail in Phoenix, Ariz., who want to watch television have to pedal stationary bikes customized to power the sets. The bikes generate 12 volts of electricity to operate the sets, and an hour of pedaling equals an hour of TV, according to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who started the program, called “Pedal Vision.” (KNXV-TV News)

Shot in the Dark

When a light is turned on at night, even briefly, it triggers cellular changes that might lead to cancer, according to researchers in the United Kingdom and Israel. Writing in the journal Cancer Genetics and Cytogenetics, Dr. Rachel Ben-Shlomo of the University of Haifa recommended, “If you want to get up to go to the toilet, you should avoid reaching for the light switch. (Britain’s Daily Mail)

Watching the Defectives

An inspector general’s report that high-ranking employees in the Securities and Exchange Commission violated SEC rules “by viewing pornographic, sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images using government computer resources and official time” cited as one example a staff accountant who tried to access pornographic websites nearly 1800 times in a two-week period, using her SEC laptop, and had some 600 pornographic images saved on her laptop hard drive. The report also said a senior attorney admitted to spending up to eight hours a day downloading pornography to his government computer, so much pornography, in fact, “that he exhausted the available space on the computer hard drive and downloaded pornography to CDs or DVDs that he accumulated in boxes in his office.” (CNN)

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet was the author of a syndicated column called "News Quirks," which appeared weekly in Seven Days.


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