"Really" suffering for his art 

"Pain is the sensation of weakness leaving the body," Phoenix "artist" Steve Haworth told a Phoenix New Times reporter in May, while he was arranging scenes for associates of his Church of Body Modification, including a horizontal full-body suspension (hanging for five minutes by rings in body piercings); a tug of war (full-force pulling contest using a rope held taut through rings on various body piercings); free-moving implants just below the skin that appear to be, say, a living bracelet; and various body alterations such as "Vulcan" ears, a ribbed penis, and a filleted male urethra. Haworth won't amputate anything, though (too "destructive," he said), thus displeasing his girlfriend, who wants to lose two toes in order to fit into smaller shoes.

Drive to succeed


High school senior Trevor Loflin scored a perfect 1600 on his SATs this year despite the potential handicap of having lived the previous three years with his mother and sisters in the back of their Chevrolet Suburban, the result of the mother's having lost her job as a physician in Fresno, Calif. Mother Cynthia Hamilton decided to home-school her kids and, in view of housing prices in California, found the family got along just fine without a house (though they recently moved into a one-bedroom apartment). Since the family turned to religion to get them through their ordeal, Trevor told the Los Angeles Times he would probably enroll in Bob Jones University in the fall.

Sliding scales of justice


A consumer who was oppressively required to buy a full season of NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV satellite service (instead of being offered a cheaper weekly rate) gets back $9 to $21, according to a class-action settlement announced in May, but the lawyers will receive $3.7 million. And a consumer who was oppressively charged daily late fees by Blockbuster Video (without realizing how much they could amount to) gets back a few discount coupons, according to a class-action settlement announced in June, but the lawyers will get $9.25 million.

Fat chance


A research team from UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh (writing in an April issue of the journal Tissue Engineering) and another from Duke University recently reported success at collecting valuable human stem cells from ordinary liposuctioned fat, potentially ending the need to collect such cells through controversial fetal-tissue procedures and painful bone-marrow extraction. Stem cells can make replacement muscle, bone and cartilage, and if they come from one's own fat, will not be rejected by the body. Also, as the researchers pointed out, Americans' fat cells are an abundant resource.

Poop scoop


Centers for Disease Control specialist Charles Beard told the Los Angeles Times in April that he has created a genetically modified dung that might eradicate Chagas disease, which kills 50,000 people a year in Central and South America. Beard's meticulously manufactured bug poop (made from ammonia, ink and guar gum) looks and smells like the real thing but contains bacteria that prevent the so-called "kissing bugs" from spreading the disease, which they would do if left to their normal "diet" of eating their parents' dung.

Acting fishy


Swedish scientists from the National Board of Fisheries reported in March that, after observing 117 pairs of trout engaged in sex (quivering violently with their mouths open, followed by the supposed simultaneous release of egg and sperm), they found that males always released their sperm at the end but that, half the time, the females cheated, withholding their eggs. The researchers speculated that the female was "faking an orgasm" as a mating strategy to preserve the eggs in case she ran into a more-desirable male.

Plunge right in


According to documents released upon the settlement of a lawsuit in Kapolei, Hawaii, in February (involving sexual harassment claims against managers at a Safeway store), in one incident in the mid-1990s, a male employee who was spying on a female customer through a restroom peephole was injured when the woman realized she was being watched and shoved a toilet plunger handle through the hole, into his eye socket.

Trick thinking


Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported in November that part-time magician Lau Yin-wai, 27, might have saved the life of a neighbor woman from her husband's rage. Alerted by yelling, the magician ran next door to the couple's apartment and saw the husband poised to stab his wife with a knife. The magician quickly threw his coat over the knife, shouted some words of distraction, and deftly removed the knife from the man's hand. Then, as he pulled the coat and knife away, he told the man that he had made the knife disappear, which he said seemed to bewilder the man enough to cause him to give up and await the police.

Curl up and buy


Even though she had stolen nearly $250,000 over a three-year period from her employer, Elizabeth Randolph Roach, 47, received a sentence in May of only probation because a judge in Chicago sympathized with her shopping addiction, which he characterized as "self-medicat(ion)" for severe depression. Roach used the stolen money to pay for 70 pairs of shoes, a $7,000 belt buckle, and other clothes and accessories she purchased on trips to London, most of which she never wore.

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