In udder disbelief 

Madison veterinarians said in September that they now have the technology to detect the fraudulent use of three udder-enhancing schemes employed on show cows at dairy exhibits. Forty percent of a cow's grade is based on how full, symmetrical and smooth her udders are (but unlike a woman's breasts in human beauty contests, cow udders are important only for their financial, milk-producing potential). Tests of the milk can detect whether saline was injected into the udder, and ultrasound can reveal whether the udder has received isobutane gas "foamies" or a liquid silver protein that does for the udder what Botox does for human wrinkles.

Piece of resistance

In recent months, at the same time that the Bush administration has been mobilizing support for a military invasion of Iraq, other Bush representatives were working with Iraq (and Iran, Libya, Sudan and the Vatican) -- and against almost all of the United States' traditional allies -- to resist the United Nations' worldwide support of "reproductive health services" (including abortion), sex education (unless that "education" is abstinence) and gay rights. One critic called it "perverse" to blame Iraq for "unspeakable acts of terrorism" while joining them in "the oppression of women."

Shrines of the times

In September, a mud puddle in the shape of Buddha's footprint attracted pilgrims to Thailand's Pungna province and was "guarded" by a frog whose skin was being fondled by people searching for lottery numbers.

An outline in a dead tree trunk, which formed the likeness of the Virgin Mary looking down at her baby, attracted pilgrims to the property of nonbeliever Bill Gaede in Fresno County, Calif., while the condensation on a greenhouse wall in the image of the Virgin Mary attracted pilgrims to a private home in Ile-a-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan.

Sick in the head

"Shy," "brilliant" (according to colleagues) neurologist Joseph James Warner was arrested in Gainesville, Fla., this August and charged with illegally storing numerous human heads, brains and other body parts in his home. Warner was teaching at the University of Florida but was immediately fired because the body parts belonged to the school's lab and could not be lawfully removed. A former girlfriend called the Warner home a "hellhole" because of the organ-containing tanks and jars strewn around the house, and a St. Petersburg Times reporter said many of Warner's co-workers described him as a "deeply troubled man."

But I'm a Republican

In September, Washington state Sen. Joe Zarelli acknowledged to The Columbian newspaper that he had collected $12,000 in unemployment benefits in 2001 and 2002 without declaring that he was also being paid $32,000 a year as a senator, but he blamed the state bureaucracy for not catching him and explaining to him why that was wrong. Sen. Zarelli said he "had no clue" that he was supposed to report his legislator's salary (which would count against any benefits he might receive) and said he thought the reason the employment-security agency was after him was because he is a Republican.

Immaculate conviction

Medell Banks, a retarded, poor, black man from Butler, Ala., is serving a 15-year sentence for manslaughter as a result of his confession that he killed his newborn baby in 1999 -- despite strong evidence that there was never a baby in the first place.

Banks' estranged wife had claimed she was pregnant but refused to be examined by a local doctor who said he thought he heard a fetal heartbeat. When her "baby" vanished, authorities assumed it had been born and killed.

It turned out that Mrs. Banks had been sterilized four years earlier, and doctors say she remains sterile.

In August, a state appeals court ordered a new trial for Banks, but he remains in prison through the obstinacy of the district attorney, Robert Keahey.

Dropping blotter

From Montana's Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Sept. 24, 2002: "A caller reported at 7 p.m. Sunday that a man was holding a knife to a woman in a car parked in the Albertson's parking lot. Officers responded and determined that the woman was actually using the man's knife to clean her teeth."

From the Daily Herald in Orem, Utah, Sept. 2, 2002: "Orem police officers responded to a report of someone seeing a man dragging a woman into a residence. ... The woman explained that she had been 'playing hard to get' and had been running around until her boyfriend could catch her, and he then played like a caveman and dragged her into the house, `a police` spokesman said."

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