Simply bovine 

A September Deutsch Presse-Agentur report profiled Mr. Rainer Thoenes, 33, from the German village of Kalkar, who earns a nice living as a hairdresser for cows being readied for cattle shows. "The trick," said Thoenes, "is to highlight the cow's strong points [straight back, slim legs, plump udders] and hide the weak ones." But his professional standards, he said, prevent him from supplying artificial parts, such as more attractive tails.

Who wants to be a herdsman?

Britain's BBC made one more attempt in December to save the program "One Man and His Dog," whose viewership has fallen off since its 1980s heyday. The program focuses solely on shepherds who, with dogs in tow, compete to efficiently herd sheep into pens. (Producers jazz up the show by equipping some sheep with microphones to capture their "baa's." ) And a fall 1999 British-made documentary, "Hidden Love: Animal Passions," profiled members of Missouri's "zoophile" community -- humans who are romantically involved with animals. Included was an interview in which an uncloseted zoophile gushed over his "wife" Pixel, a horse. Said one activist, "We are not sick at all. Zoosexuality is [merely] an alternative lifestyle."

Cruise control

According to London's Daily Telegraph, U.K.-funded research revealed in January indicates that within 10 years, countries may require car manufacturers to install $300 electronic governors that would use satellite technology to control the maximum speed at which cars could travel. The rate could be varied to allow for traffic, highway design and driving conditions.

An "Eh?" for an eye

At his September sentencing hearing in Golden, Colo., convicted murderer William "Cody" Neal declared, "I [accept] responsibility for the [murder]. If I lose my life, I can live with that." And Appleton, Wis., police arrived in December at the home of an unnamed woman to remove her children because of a complaint that she had given her 11-year-old daughter a "swirlie" (holding her head in a flushing toilet). "I haven't had a vacation in 13 years," the mother responded. "Go ahead and take them."

Mistake knife

A November Associated Press report said that Jacksonville, Fla., stabbing victim Michael Hill, 44, was progressing slowly after an April 1998, incident in which a neighbor mistakenly jammed an 8-inch serrated blade all the way into the top of his skull. Doctors pulled the blade out without major damage, and Hill now takes pain and seizure medication but still has trouble with his emotions and short-term memory. Hill's sister, at whose house he was staying when he was stabbed, believes the attack was intended for her husband.

The winds of war

In September, a Palm Bay, Fla., engineer made a renewed call for testing of his theory that bombarding developing hurricanes with nuclear weapons can disrupt their circular wind flow and cause them to dissipate, thus saving lives and curbing property damage. Henry Payne first made the claim in 1997, but a federal weather official said too many bombs would be needed, resulting in serious nuclear fallout even if the bombardment took place far from land.

Whitewall tyrant

At a meeting of African leaders in Tripoli in September, Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy unveiled a prototype of the car of the future, which he said he had personally engineered in his spare time. The low-slung, five-passenger "Rocket of the Jamahiriya" features bottle-shaped front and rear ends to deflect collisions, making it the world's safest car. Libya is prepared to produce 50,000 cars a year, all priced in the "upper-middle-class" range.

God's little fantasy camp

Having leased land rights from the Israeli government, a private company plans to build a $6.6 million entertainment complex in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. The complex will include an 80-yard platform just below the water's surface that will allow visitors to re-create Christ's walk on water (at $5 a head). However, in a December Austin American-Statesman report, Roman Catholic priest and Holy Land scholar Jerome Murphy-O'Connor predicted the walkway would be used only by "drunk tourists, not serious pilgrims."

Come here often, spud muffin?

In a December profile, the Village Voice touted the hand-carved potato dildoes of California artist Pommela de Terre, who said spuds are more sensual than carrots, cucumbers, clay, Play-Doh, candles or even commercial dildoes. De Terre said she adds lemon juice to prevent color change and olive oil for flexibility, and that she's never had a potato break during use.

The flaws of motion

In unrelated incidents, Jesus Gutierrez, 17, was arrested in Springfield, Ore., in October and Lawrence Eaddy was arrested in Charlotte, N.C., in July, both charged with carjackings that were rendered unsuccessful when the perpetrators realized too late that they couldn't drive models with stick shifts. And the man who robbed the First American Bank in Columbia, Tenn., in December managed to escape despite the setback that occurred when he ran out to the stolen car he had left idling, only to discover that he had locked the key inside.

Speaking of News Of The Weird

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