Odds & Ends

Devin D. O'Leary
4 min read
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Dateline: Germany—Bulgarian Tihomir Titschko became the first European chess-boxing champion last week in Berlin. Chess boxing is described as the newest and most unlikely of “hybrid sports,” designed to test both brains and brawn. A typical match consists of up to 11 alternating rounds of boxing and “blitz” chess sessions. Boxing rounds last two minutes each, while the “blitz” chess style allows competitors 12 minutes on the clock before the match is over. The World Chess Boxing Organization, which trains several dozen boxers twice a week near its headquarters in Berlin, says combining the “No. 1 intellectual sport” with the “No. 1 fighting sport” offers a unique challenge. Although a chess-boxing contest can end with a knockout, the final match between Tihomir Titschko and Andreas Schneider, of Germany, ended with Scheider's concession. Schneider kept pace with Titschko into the seventh round, but his 12 minutes of chess time had nearly elapsed and his king and remaining pawns were in retreat. Chess boxing is the brainchild of Iepe Rubingh, 31, a Dutch artist who lives in Germany.

Dateline: England—Posters for the new Wallace & Gromit cartoon Curse of the Were-Rabbit have been banned in one corner of Britain due to local superstition. According to Sky News, authorities on the Isle of Portland–which is connected to County Dorset by a causeway–warned that advertisements for the film should not appear there as the word “rabbit” might offend locals. For more than 100 years the word “rabbit” has been considered bad luck by the islanders. Stone from Portland's quarries is world-famous and was used to build St. Paul's Cathedral as well as other London landmarks. According to local lore, a quarry crane operator was killed 100 years ago when the ground gave way because of rabbit burrows, causing the crane to tip over. In the past, quarry workers were so superstitious that they would stop work and go home for the day if they saw a rabbit. “There is certainly a feeling against the word ’rabbit,' especially from the older residents,” Mayor Tim Woodcock told Sky News. “It is a local superstition but like any superstition, people take it seriously.”

Dateline: Australia—The Queensland government has said it would investigate allegations that a forensic laboratory worker stole parts of human brains so that they could be injected into racehorses to make them run faster. The worker at a pathology lab in the northern city of Brisbane reportedly stole pituitary glands found at the base of the brain, because the hormones they contain govern growth stimulation and could, therefore, stimulate horses. The claims, made by the worker's colleagues, appeared in a report in the Courier-Mail. Queensland State Health Minister Stephen Robertson said health department officials were “totally unaware of the allegations,” but conceded that, “the health scientific services branch is undertaking an urgent investigation into the allegations.” The worker at the center of the allegations, who agreed to the investigation, was also accused of keeping nooses of suicide victims and the drip bags attached to people who died in hospitals.

Dateline: New York—It's probably safe to say that cracking down on drunk driving won't be a campaign issue for Brian Karst. Karst, who is running as an independent candidate for the Common Council of Oneida, N.Y., was arrested last Friday for DWI–twice. Karst, 43, was arrested and ticketed for numerous traffic violations by a sheriff's deputy after a field sobriety test revealed his blood alcohol content was 0.14 percent, nearly twice the legal limit. Less that three hours later, after being released from jail to a third party, the exact same officer pulled Karst over–driving the exact same car as before. This time, Karst's blood alcohol level was 0.11–still over the legal limit of 0.08. According to police records, Karst was also arrested for drunk driving on Sept. 9. So far, Karst says he will remain in the Council race.

Dateline: Florida—School officials in Lake County have confirmed that a substitute teacher has been terminated and banned from teaching after ripping an insulin pump off a diabetic student's leg after mistaking it for a mobile phone. Clifton Hassam, a ninth-grade student at East Ridge High School, told officials that his insulin pump–which regulates his blood sugar level–began beeping in class last Friday. Before he could turn it off, 51-year-old teacher Richard Maline, ripped it from the teenager's leg, detaching the tube that fed insulin to him. Hassam went to the school's clinic and had the tube reinserted. The Lake County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident and trying to determine if there was any criminal intent.

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

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