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 V.20 No.16 | April 21 - 27, 2011 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Mexico—According to an article in the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, the Ayapaneco language is in danger of disappearing because there are only two people left in the world who speak it—and they refuse to talk to one another. Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live less than a mile from each other in the village of Ayapa in Mexico’s southern coastal Tabasco state but have avoided one another for decades. “They don't have a lot in common,” Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University, told the newspaper. Suslak and other linguists are attempting to create a dictionary of Ayapaneco, but they've been stymied by the fact that Segovia and Velazquez disagree on many of their language’s finer points. Suslak said the dictionary, which is due out later this year, will contain both versions. The National Indigenous Language Institute, which helps keep Mexico’s 68 indigenous languages alive, is hoping to get the two remaining Ayapaneco speakers to pass their knowledge on in a classroom setting. Previous attempts have failed due to a lack of funding and public disinterest. “I bought pencils and notebooks myself,” Segovia told the Guardian. “The classes would start off full and then the pupils would stop coming.” Ayapaneco has been spoken in Mexico for centuries but was all but eradicated by the introduction of standardized Spanish-language education in in the mid-20th century.

Dateline: South Carolina—In a sad coincidence, a teenager died in a three-car pileup on a rural stretch of highway named after his father, a soldier who perished after a roadside bomb hit his vehicle in Afghanistan. Two years ago, a section of Highway 129 in Wellford was dedicated in honor of U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Shawn Hill. On April 7, his son—high school senior Aaron Shawn Hill—was killed on the same length of highway. Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Bill Rhyne told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal that Hill was driving a Honda that was struck head-on by a 2004 Chevrolet pickup driven by Michael Blake White, 27, of Inman. White apparently crossed the center line while headed west on Highway 129. Three other high school students in Hill’s car were injured. White’s pickup struck a second vehicle, injuring the driver. Hill was the only one killed.

Dateline: Florida—A resident of Florida’s frequently drunken Treasure Coast was arrested on a DUI charge after he tried to light one of his hearing aids on fire, thinking it was a cigarette. The incident happened after a Martin County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over 53-year-old David Wagner in the Jensen Beach area. The deputy who stopped Jensen noted a strong odor of alcohol in the man’s Saturn. A second deputy arrived on the scene and approached Wagner in the driver’s seat. “He was trying to light one of his hearing aids with a lighter,” the officer noted in his affidavit. “I noticed that there was another hearing aid in his lap.” Wagner explained to officers he was trying to light a cigarette. “I told him that he was trying to light his hearing aid,” said the police affidavit. “He then stopped.” Asked if he had consumed any alcohol that evening, Wagner informed officer he’d had “way too much.” Wagner then went on to admit he’d drunk “about a half a bottle of Jägermeister.” He said he was out getting a chocolate milkshake for his wife, whose bottom teeth were removed earlier in the day, but was unable to find his way out of Ocean Breeze Park where he was pulled over. A breath test was administered and showed that Wagner’s blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit.

Dateline: Wisconsin—A small-town politician who engaged police in a 15-hour standoff after shooting out his TV during a broadcast of “Dancing With the Stars” has been given three years probation. Steven Cowan, 68, pleaded no contest on April 11 to misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct, negligent handling of a weapon and a felony count of failing to comply with a police officer’s orders. Dane County Circuit Judge Nicholas McNamara gave Cowan probation on the misdemeanor charges and said he could dismiss the felony count if Cowan completes his probation with no further violations or incidents. Cowan was arrested in November after he drunkenly destroyed his television with a shotgun while watching Bristol Palin on “Dancing With the Stars.” According to a criminal complaint filed at the time, Cowan “was upset that a political figure’s daughter was dancing on this particular show when Steven did not think that she was a good dancer.” In December, Cowan resigned from the town of Vermont’s Board of Supervisors.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. Email your weird news to devin@alibi.com.
 
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