School of hard knocks

Inspired by the Brad Pitt movie, seven Brigham Young University students recently organized a Fight Club that periodically draws as many as 300 screaming spectators to watch college-age men pound each other into submission. According to an April Salt Lake Tribune report, the events differ from the movie in that boxing gloves are used and hunk-admiring women constitute almost half the audience. (Fighting is not against the BYU Honor Code, although watching the R-rated "Fight Club" is; the bouts are held late enough at night not to violate the Mormon "family home evening" concept.)

Current events

More than 500 people were reportedly electrocuted in Russia last year when they tried to steal electrical cables from power lines to resell them as scrap metal. According to an April New York Times dispatch, more than 15,000 miles of power lines have been pulled down in recent years, rendering millions of households dark for weeks at a time. One recent victim, interviewed while in intensive care, said he became confident when he saw a single line left on a pole, believing that thieves had safely removed the others; he is now without his left arm, right leg and colon.

Down-to-Earth investment

According to a January Associated Press report, China maintains a government-sanctioned UFO research organization that numbers 50,000 members and processes 500 alleged sightings a year. The activity is to be expected, the organization's director said, because extraterrestrials, too, are interested in the country's rapidly developing markets. And Professor Liu Dalin opened a sex museum last year in Shanghai whose 1,000 exhibits include a historical, imperial-palace stamp that was used to mark the derrieres of virgin girls. And according to an April Wall Street Journal story, there has been a recent "explosion" of successful litigation in China by elderly parents who have sued their children for failing to care for them in old age.

Digit-al displays

The British supermarket chain Tesco announced in January that its film-processing department has collected a total of 24,000 photographs over the years that include unwanted, accidental images of customers' fingers resting on the lens. The right middle finger was said to be the most popular.

Return of the native

Hussen Farah Mohammed, 46, was released from jail in Bloomington, Minn., in January after 16 months' incarceration for illegally entering the U.S. from Canada; he said he had accidentally wandered across the unmarked border while birdwatching in the woods, but after he was captured, Canada refused to take him back. And Houston car mechanic Edgar Garfield Gibbons, 41, returned to the U.S. in March after nine months in jail in Georgetown, Guyana, to which country he had been mistakenly deported when he was confused with a New Jersey man of the same name.

Porn loser

In December, former Gastonia, N.C., prison guard Timothy Ramey filed a legal challenge to his dismissal, saying the incident that precipitated the firing was merely a minor mistake. Ramey said he was arguing with his superintendent about something and became so frustrated that, in an effort to "ignore" what his boss was saying, he reached into his briefcase, "pulled the first thing out" that he came across and pretended to concentrate on it. It was a copy of Playboy magazine, which infuriated the superintendent.

No relief in sight

In December, a joint committee of the Colorado Legislature approved an emergency grant of $75,000 to Morgan Community College in Fort Morgan, Colo., after it dawned on administrators that, because of "an oversight in the plan for the project," their just-finished student center had no restrooms.

Tit for tat

At a village near Jericho in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, police said a Muslim woman beat her 10-day-old son to death in January because he preferred to be breastfed by his father's other wife. And in Tokyo in March, Mitsuko Yamada, 36, pled guilty to killing a 2-year-old girl, apparently solely so that Yamada would no longer have to face the girl's mother, who had allegedly ignored Yamada during the neighborhood playground's social hour.

Hospital wings

In December, Saskatchewan legislator Brad Wall lamented the invasion of Regina General hospital by bats. "I'm not sure what is more disturbing," he said, "the fact that nurses spend part of their day catching bats or that nurses were advised not to catch these particular bats because they could be rabid."

The view from down under

Twice in the last five weeks, News of the Weird has reported on abuses perpetrated in dental offices in the U.S. In November, a Melbourne, Australia, dentist was accused by the Victorian Dental Board of professional misconduct for allegedly engaging in the unauthorized (but not unheard of) practice of easing facial pain by administering ozone through the patient's rectum; one patient had received 15 such treatments within a three-week period. Advocates of the procedure say the remedy can also be administered in the ear.

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