Pensacola, Florida
Monday August 20th 2018


News of the Weird 10.14

More Creative Alternate-Site Surgery: Doctors from the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Washington announced in September that they could just as well handle certain brain surgeries by access not in the traditional way through the top of the skull but by drilling holes in the nose and, more recently, the eye socket. (Since classic brain surgery requires that the top of the skull be temporarily removed, the breakthroughs mean fewer complications.) These innovations follow on the inroads in recent years in performing kidney-removal and gall-bladder surgery not by traditional abdominal incisions but through, respectively, the vagina and the anus.

The Continuing Crisis In a heartwarming climax to an adopted son’s emotional search for his birth mother (who gave him up for adoption 33 years ago), Richard Lorenc of Kansas managed to track down mom Vivian Wheeler, 62, living in Bakersfield, Calif., where she is retired — as a circus-sideshow “bearded lady” (the result of hypertrichosis, also known as “werewolf syndrome”). Lorenc said he can see their similarities right through Wheeler’s beard, which she keeps now at a length of 11 inches. The relationship was to be confirmed by a DNA test paid for by the Maury Povich TV show, but at press time, the result had not been announced.

Sports Fans Over the Line: (1) Marie Murphy, a fifth-grade teacher in Stratford, N.J., and her husband lost almost everything in a house fire in April, but when she arrived at the burning home, she defied firefighters and dashed inside to retrieve a single prized possession: her Philadelphia Phillies season tickets. “My husband was so mad at me…” (Later, a Phillies representative gently informed her that the team would have reprinted her tickets for free.) (2) Justin Witcombe, 31, showed a reporter in Geelong, Australia, in September his full body of tattoos of his three idols in life: boxer Mike Tyson, the rock group KISS, and his local Collingwood soccer team, whose mascot is inked prominently on Witcombe’s penis.
• At least 13 percent of U.S. teenagers report having intentionally injured themselves as cries for help, and among the more extreme manifestations is “embedding” — the insertion of glass, wood, metal and other material, just under the skin. Writing in the October issue of the journal Radiology, a doctor at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, followed up on 11 cases involving 76 self-embedded objects in arms, neck, feet and hands, including an astonishing 35 placed by one boy (staples, parts of a comb, parts of a fork).
• Jennifer Tesch’s daughter, Kennedy, was kicked off her cheerleader squad (supporting a youth flag-football team) in Madison Heights, Mich., after complaining to her mother about the saucy language of one of the cheers in the girls’ repertoire: “Our backs ache!/Our skirts are too tight!/We shake our booties!/From left to right!” Kennedy and Jennifer thought that was inappropriate, considering that Kennedy is 6 years old. The team, given the chance to renounce the cheer, voted in September to keep it and instead to punish Kennedy for taking the dispute public.

Bright Ideas The older the religion, the seemingly more likely its practitioners are to adopt clever workarounds to theological obligations that modern society has rendered inconvenient. Orthodox Jews are among the most creative, as News of the Weird has demonstrated, reporting their imaginative treatments of divorce rituals and expanding the concept of the “home” in which practitioners must remain during the Sabbath. In September, in preparation for the Yom Kippur holy day, caffeine addicts — traditionally hard-hit by the day’s fasting requirement that prohibits ingesting anything “by mouth” — reportedly made a run on drug stores in Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn, N.Y., to buy caffeine suppositories.

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