Get on the stick

Two American Legion posts and two other veterans' groups in Pleasanton, Calif., sponsored a class on dowsing to consider whether domestic terrorists could be identified by pointing sticks at suspicious people to see if the sticks move. Said one of the leaders, "You can't wait for the FBI and police to come up with solutions when you have the bad guys living among us."

Sweet smell of capitalism

Tyrone Henry, 30, ran a scheme in which female college students were paid $10 to "test" a facial cream that turned out to be Henry's semen. The crime was so unorthodox that he could only be charged with fraud, but he was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to seven years in prison. However, he is still aggressively proclaiming that he violated no law. Argues Henry: The women were adults; there was no sexual contact; they were paid; Henry did not "expose" himself because the girls were blindfolded. Henry said he was just pursuing "the American dream" with his website selling men photos of women's semen-adorned faces.

Beats telemarketing

The Norwegian newspaper VG's series on odd summer jobs included that of teenager Svein Tore Hauge, who, armed with a shovel and a container, works at Saerheim Plant Research, following cattle around and catching their excreta before it can hit the ground. Because the work-product is used for scientific study, it must be "pristine," free of grass, dirt, foreign bacteria, etc. Sometimes it's easy, he said, but, "Sometimes it just sprays in all directions."

God sez, 'Speak for yourself'

Hurricane Isabel roared through Virginia Beach, Va., in September, inflicting serious property damage despite public calls for prayer to keep it away by local resident Pat Robertson, whose Christian Broadcasting Network is headquartered there. In 1998, Robertson condemned the city of Orlando, Fla., for sponsoring the "Gay Days" festival, and warned the city that God could tear it up during hurricane season for promoting homosexuality. Instead, the first hurricane to make landfall in 1998, Bonnie, scored a direct hit on Virginia Beach.

His deputy: Phil McCracken

Elected as sheriff of Aiken County, South Carolina, was a fellow named Mike Hunt, who prefers the name Mike and not Michael, and whose campaign slogan was "Mike Hunt/Accessible For You."

Just hold me

A 36-year-old man from Arcadia, Fla., checked himself into a counseling clinic He had been identified as pretending in public to be choking on food and persuading women to grasp him in the Heimlich maneuver, after which he would hug them lavishly and attempt clumsily to develop a relationship. A sheriff's spokesman in Charlotte County said the man probably had done nothing illegal. Novelist Chuck Palahniuk, author of "Fight Club," recently published "Choke," whose storyline roughly matches the man's actions, but apparently some Florida incidents predated the book's publication.

What's the magic word?

In Wiltshire County, England, police hand-delivered letters to 22 persistent criminals in January asking them, for the New Year, to please stop breaking the law.

Sounds like our newsroom

England's Plymouth University, with a small Arts Council grant, could not quite test whether an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters could produce the works of Shakespeare, but did see what six Sulawesi crested macaque monkeys would do on a computer over a four-week period. They produced about five pages of text among them, mostly consisting of the letter "s." According to lead professor Geoff Cox, they spent a lot of time sitting on the keyboard.

Leave no administrator behind

The Lawrence, Mass., superintendent of schools, Wilfredo T. Laboy, failed for the third time the basic English proficiency test required of all teachers in the state -- a test which, after one of the failures, he had called "stupid." He passed on the fourth try.

Simply irresistible

Females in tribes in Kenya and other African nations are finally rebelling at the ancient custom of requiring a newly widowed woman to pay to have sex with the village's "cleanser" to purify her soul sufficiently to be allowed to attend her husband's funeral. Said one cleanser in Gangre, "It's not bad for me since I get to be with the beautiful ladies. The women like it because who else would be with them? They can't stay alone with the spirits. They need me." Cleansers are believed to be major HIV conveyers since a condom would not allow the spirits to pass.

Yummy in our tummies

A 37-year-old female inmate died at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Saskatchewan, Canada, from a toxic reaction to methadone that she had consumed by drinking the vomit of a fellow inmate who was on a methadone maintenance program. A coroner's inquest in March heard witness after witness describe inmates' practice of trading their methadone-laced vomit for various inmate favors, and the two inmates who admitted vomiting for the victim have since been additionally sentenced for drug trafficking.

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