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News of the Weird 

Bowling for meteors:
In January, the engineers and hobbyists of Utah's Salt Lake Astronomical Society told reporters they were planning to air-drop bowling balls, at very high altitude, to check out their impact when they land on the salt flats, to simulate the impact of meteorites. The society said it had been frustrated that it could not find any meteorites so far and had been wondering whether they had disintegrated or been pulverized on impact. Two days later, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, citing the many people engaged in work projects on the salt flats, said it was a bad idea to be dropping bowling balls around them.

Texas justice:
In December, Texas murder defendant Leonard Rojas' time for appeals ran out, and he was executed. Sixty-eight days later, three members of the state's highest court for criminal cases explicitly concluded that Rojas' appointed lawyer was woefully incompetent and that the court's majority had ignored that incompetence while Rojas was still alive. The lawyer, David K. Chapman: had never handled a death-penalty case, failed to investigate Rojas' case, rarely met with Rojas, admitted he missed filing deadlines (one of which barred Rojas from any federal appeal), and had had his license suspended three times by the Texas Bar (once during the time he was representing Rojas).

Readers' choice:
The race-discrimination lawsuit of two black sisters (Grace Fuller, 48, and Louise Sawyer, 46) against Southwest Airlines is scheduled to go to trial in Kansas City, Kan., in March. The sisters' entire case is that a white flight attendant, in a hurry to get passengers seated, recited Southwest's version of a rhyme that has a racist history: "Eenie, meeny, minie, moe / Pick a seat, We gotta go." The sisters felt degraded and believe they are due some money.

Family affair:
High school senior Brian Delekta filed a lawsuit in February against the school system in Memphis, Mich., alleging that he actually did A-plus work in one course but only received an A for it, and that his average should be even higher than it is (and Delekta was ranked first in his class by the end of his junior year). The course at issue here is a "work experience" course in which he served as a paralegal in a law office and did a fine job, according to his supervisor. That supervisor happened to be his mother, Diane, who said she meant that he did A-plus, not A, work.

Something else to worry about:
In her Daily Telegraph (London) column of Jan. 16, Medical Editor Celia Hall reported that a family doctor in western England has been summoned to a formal hearing before his local primary-care trust because he refused to certify a male patient for a Pap smear to screen him for cervical cancer. The man sincerely believes he is a hermaphrodite, but his doctor said he can find no evidence of that (and in fact, the man once fathered a child). At least one colleague suggested appeasing the patient, which the doctor said he might do if someone would teach him the procedure for performing a cervical smear on a 34-year-old male.

Least competent criminals:
Two women were arrested in February and two men were being sought by police in a failed counterfeit-check scheme in Hickory, N.C.; they were busted because, despite using elaborate computer software to publish bogus checks, none of the four noticed that they had spelled the payer Broyhill Furniture's name as "Boryhill Furmiture."

INS - Indiscrimate and nefarious shredding:
News of the Weird has several times reported on Postal Service letter carriers who get so far behind on their routes that they believe their only way out is to destroy their many bags of backlog. In January, two Immigration and Naturalization Service supervisors in Laguna Niguel, Calif., were indicted for allegedly ordering subordinates to shred their office's 90,000-document backlog (and to continue to shred incoming paperwork so that the office kept current).

Also, in the last month ... :
A worker at the Brown-Forman Distillery sent 1,800 gallons of tequila into the sewer system when he mistakenly unloaded one tank into an already full one (Louisville, Ky.). Circus clown Gavin Riley, 37, was jailed for two years for beating up his girlfriend because she declined to go watch him perform (Newcastle Upon Tyne, England). Entomologists explained that warm weather was the reason that hordes of cutworms and army worms were slithering across northwestern New Mexico, covering roads and invading homes (but not to worry, in that they would turn into moths in a few weeks, anyway) (Shiprock, N.M.).


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