Father grows best 

News of the Weird last year announced that an Australian scientist was working on growing human sperm cells inside mouse testicles, and in February 1999 a team at Tottori University in Japan announced it had actually grown some that way. But just when science was making men obsolete, prominent British fertility researcher Lord Robert Winston told reporters that his book (due in April) would show how an embryo could be planted in a man's abdomen, develop to full term by massive infusion of female hormones and attachment to certain organs for nourishment, and be born by Caesarian section.

Porn to boogie

In February, Eastern Illinois University officials declined to refund $364 in tuition to April Hixson for the course "Nonwestern Music," which Hixson said was little music and much pornography, seemingly designed to draw reactions from female students. Said Professor Douglas DiBianco, "You have to understand the extremes of art to appreciate art in general." Hixson (who received an A) said DiBianco's themes in lectures and visuals included enemas, penis amputation, incest and the advocacy of student orgies. The university acknowledged at least one ongoing state complaint over a DiBianco course.

Cop out

Despite his high-profile job, Tarrant County (Fort Worth, Texas) Sheriff David Williams has apparently stopped meeting with the Fort Worth police chief and county commissioners and even his own administrators, and rarely goes to his office, according to a February Houston Chronicle report. His defenders say he is extremely shy, but critics say he hasn't dealt well with criticism (about his too-close ties to the Christian political right, his eccentric new projects such as a helicopter fleet, and his earlier attempt to acquire sovereign powers from the county under the law of the Republic of Texas as it was in 1836).

Crimes of fashion

From recent police reports: In Fort Lupton, Colo., in December, a woman tried to rob a Bank of Colorado wearing a large garbage bag over her body. In Huntsville, Ala., in December, a man robbed a Circle C convenience store with his face swathed in toilet paper. In Bexley, Ohio, in January, a man robbed a National City Bank while wearing checkered pajamas and bedroom slippers.

Dishonor roll

A top Columbia University law student, Zolton Williams, 29, was convicted in December of running a cocaine-smuggling operation to help finance his studies. And in January, University of California at Santa Cruz National Merit Scholar Emma Rose Freeman, 18, was charged with robbing a beauty salon and a Costco store at gunpoint (along with her philosophy-major boyfriend). And Berkley, Mich., honor student and athlete Sarah Plumb, 16, was charged with the armed robbery of a gas station in December (on her way to gymnastics practice), allegedly to feed a two-year-old heroin habit.

Frown and out

Carmel Valley, Calif., grocery cashier Sandi Lewtschuk was fired in October after 20 years at Safeway because, though she had no customer complaints, she was deemed deficient by management in executing the company's "smile" policy. (Lewtschuk and others have criticized required smiling as phony, and some female employees in San Francisco said it encouraged male customers to think the women were flirting.)

Sleeper hit

Inmate George Davis, 58, filed a lawsuit in February against the federal correctional center at Fort Dix, N.J., for its failure to treat his sleep apnea, a condition that causes loud snoring. He said he needs treatment especially because he is vulnerable to getting beaten up by inmates whom his snoring keeps up at night. (At his last facility, he says, he was knocked from his bunk, had water dumped on him, and once had his bed set on fire.)

Home sweet home

The lawyer for suspected Dayton, Ohio, Bank One robber Donnie D. Tunstall said she might challenge a police search that turned up a shotgun. Tunstall and the gun were found in January in a downtown Dempsey's Dumpster that the lawyer said is actually Tunstall's home (and which contained bedding and other personal items), and police need a judicial warrant to search someone's home.

Speaking of News Of The Weird

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