Intelligent Design: If the male nursery web spider were a human, he would be sternly denounced as a vulgar cad. Researcher Maria Jose Albo of Denmark's Aarhus University told Live Science in November that the spiders typically obtain sex by making valuable "gifts" to females (usually, high-nutrition insects wrapped in silk), but if lacking resources, a male cleverly packages a fake gift (usually a piece of flower) also in silk but confoundingly wound so as to distract her as she unwraps it — and then mounts her before she discovers the hoax. Albo also found that the male is not above playing dead to coax the female into relaxing her guard as she approaches the "carcass" — only to be jumped from behind for sex.

The Continuing Crisis

- Son Theodore Zimmick and two other relatives filed a lawsuit in November against the St. Stanislaus cemetery in Pittsburgh for the unprofessional burial of Theodore's mother, Agnes, in 2009. Agnes had purchased an 11-by-8-foot plot in 1945, but when she finally passed away, the graveyard had become so crowded that, according to the lawsuit, workers were forced to dig such a small hole that they had to jump up and down on the casket and whack it with poles to fit it into the space.

- Managers of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., decided recently to relocate the statue of Abraham Lincoln that since 1895 had occupied a seldom-visited site and whose advocates over the years had insisted be given more prominence. It turned out that the most viable option was to swap locations with a conspicuous 1906 statue of Dr. Alexander Skene. Lincoln is certainly universally revered, but Dr. Skene has advocates, too, and some (according to a December Wall Street Journal report) are resisting the relocation because Dr. Skene (unlike Lincoln) was a Brooklynite, and Dr. Skene (unlike Lincoln) had a body part named after him ("Skene's glands," thought to be "vital" in understanding the "G spot").

- The two hosts of the Dutch TV show "Guinea Pigs" apparently followed through on their plans in December to eat pieces of each other (fried in sunflower oil) in order to describe the taste. Dennis Storm and Valerio Zeno underwent surgery to have small chunks removed for cooking, with Zeno perhaps faring worse (a piece of Storm's "bottom") compared to Storm (who got part of Zeno's abdomen).

- A December New England Journal of Medicine report described a woman's "losing" her breast implant during a Pilates movement called the Valsalva (which involves breath-holding while "bearing down"). The woman said she felt no pain or shortness of breath but suddenly noticed that her implant was gone. Doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore discovered that, because of the woman's recent heart surgery, the muscles between the ribs had loosened, and the implant had merely passed through a rib opening. (They returned it to its proper place.)

 

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