New Scientist magazine reported in October that psychologists seem to be reclassifying people who are permanently uninterested in sex. The old notion was that such behavior was a disorder but the emerging position is that it is merely a sexual preference of "none of the above." (Asexuals profess no sexual attraction at all, ranging from loners reluctant to associate with people to gregarious, caring people whose natural inclination is to relate to others nonsexually.) Recent research estimated that 1 percent of the population is asexual, and in previous research, 40 percent of asexuals described themselves as "extremely" or "very" happy.


In September, Bluewell, W.Va., residents Jackie Lee Shrader, 49, and his son, Harley Lee, 24, had a brief shootout with .22-caliber handguns, provoked when the pair confronted each other over how to cook skinless chicken for dinner. Also in September, Niccolo Rossodivita, 62, shot Billy Cordova, 40, twice in the chest after Cordova followed him around their Wasilla, Alaska, house, prolonging their argument over Jesus Christ's correct name. And in Eugene, Ore., Angela Morris, 19, was charged with assaulting her boyfriend by pouring boiling oil on him during an argument over a Bible verse the two had been reading together in May.


According to a September Washington Post dispatch from a Culpeper, Va., conference of people obsessed with spotting the legendary 7-foot-tall Sasquatch, which is said to be roaming the woods of America, many attendees (the "East Coast Bigfoot community") seem consumed by the West Coast Bigfoot community's supposed arrogance. That is, Western witnesses seem to regard Eastern witnesses as delusional, in that it's obvious to them that Sasquatch lives west of the Rockies.


Thomas Patrick Remo, 50, was arrested in September in Dallas and charged with practicing medicine (gynecology) without a license; Remo had a stream of female customers who apparently did not think it odd that the exams were free and that he ran his office out of a self-storage locker.


Patricia Frankhouser filed a lawsuit in Jeannette, Pa., in November against the Norfolk Southern railway as a result of being hit by a train in January as she walked on railroad tracks. Frankhouser, who suffered various cuts and a broken finger, claimed in the lawsuit that Norfolk Southern should have posted signs alongside the tracks warning people not to walk on them, because trains might be coming.


In August, cardiologist Dr. Lawrence Poliner won $366 million in damages from a federal court jury in Dallas because his practice was virtually shut down by word of mouth for seven months in 1998, a verdict that (after subtracting attorney fees) would reward him with earnings during the shutdown of $39 million per month. The shutdown came after a hospital peer review panel found errors in 29 of 44 patient cases of Poliner's. He was reinstated after prominent cardiologists supported him, though the panel did not retract its initial finding.


Frederick Puglisi, 23, was awarded $850,000 by a jury in Ramsey, N.J., in September for injuries caused by frostbite, suffered when he got drunk at a party, set out on foot and passed out in a snowbank. The jury determined that his injuries were worth $1 million in damages and that Puglisi was only 15 percent responsible. Ramsey police and the Bergen County police bore greater fault because they failed to respond quickly enough to a 911 call about a man passed out in a snowbank.


From the July 23, 2004, Police Reports column of the New London, Wis., Press-Star: "1:15 p.m., a juvenile approached an officer at … complaining about having a lock stuck around his right testicle for three days and he didn't know how to get it off." The officer found a master key. "… master key in hand, the juvenile left the room for a moment and returned with the lock. The officer spoke to the juvenile about experimenting with sexuality and how he needs to be more careful in the future."


When the police chief in Springdale, Pa., allegedly used the N-word while detaining two black teenagers, the boys' parents charged racism, but the chief's brother, police officer Mike Naviglia, came to his rescue. Officer Naviglia suddenly grabbed one of the boys, in front of their mother, and kissed him flush on the mouth. Said Naviglia, "Does that taste like racism?" According to the mother, Naviglia said, "I kissed him to show him that I wasn't prejudiced." The mother was undaunted and said she would proceed with her complaint.


Australian sleep-disorder expert Dr. Peter Buchanan caused a stir in October when he told reporters that the odd behavior of "sleep sex" (leaving home at night in a deep sleep and seeking random sex with strangers) would soon be regarded as an official sleep disorder and be included in the next version of the sleep disorder manual. Said Buchanan, anticipating skepticism: "Incredulity is the first staging post for anyone involved in this (study)."


Paul Michael Callahan, 32, was arrested in Boston in August after a short career as a bank robber, which started badly when Callahan tried to hold up the copy shop at Boston University, believing it was a bank. (The clerk asked, "Do you know you're in a copy store and all we can give you is copies?") Callahan fled but allegedly robbed a Fleet Bank branch a few minutes later (getting less than $200) and then a Citizen's Bank branch, clearing about $2,500. However, the red-dye pack from Citizen's exploded, distracting him, and then his getaway car got a flat tire, and police found him hiding in a gas station.


Among the recent idiosyncratic decrees by Turkmenistan's megalomaniacal president-for-life, Saparmurat Niyazov: Television show hosts cannot wear makeup because the president said he has difficulty distinguishing heavily made-up males from females, and an ice palace will be built in the heart of the country's extremely hot desert so that children can learn to ski.


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