A col­lec­tion of mis­cel­la­neous cu­riosi­ties

The Review - - OPINION - Visit colum­nist Jim Smart’s web site at jamess­mart­sphiladel­phia.com.

Some days I wan­der, elec­tron­i­cally speak­ing, through the world wide web look­ing for unusual sub­jects for this weekly colum­nis­tic ef­fu­sion.

Many in­ter­est­ing re­ports are dredged up that don’t be­come the topic for a whole col­umn but are in­ter­est­ing.

From my col­lec­tion of such items, some re­cent and some old but still odd, may I present the fol­low­ing:

• For 10 years, a govern­ment em­ployee in Spain, ac­cord­ing to a Na­tional Pub­lic Ra­dio re­port, punched in on a time clock ev­ery work day, went home or else­where and stopped in to punch out again at the end of the day. Some­one fi­nally no­ticed.

• A man in Florida who has no arms was ar­rested for stab­bing an­other man with a pair of scis­sors. He used his feet.

• Tech­ni­cians opened an ATM at a bank in Guwa­hati, In­dia, to find out why it wasn’t work­ing. They found a dead rat who had chewed up $18,000 worth of ru­pees.

• An 800-year-old tra­di­tion of count­ing the swans owned by Britain’s Queen El­iz­a­beth was per­formed last month. Teams pa­trolled the Thames River in south Eng­land over five days to cap­ture, tag and re­lease fam­i­lies of swans with their young. An old Bri­tish law states that the queen can own any swan swim­ming in open waters, but she mainly ex­er­cises that right on the Thames.

• A mag­a­zine men­tioned that you are 307 times more likely to be bit­ten by a poi­sonous snake than by a shark. It didn’t say whether that is re­lated to how many more times you are on land than in wa­ter.

• The cops know what the guy looks like who broke into a store in Florida. They have dozens of pic­tures of him from many an­gles. It’s a sur­veil­lance equip­ment store.

• Cops in Min­ersville, Pa., got five bucks in the mail from an anony­mous man, pay­ing for a park­ing ticket is­sued in 1974.

• A wait­ress in a restau­rant in Pine Bluff, Ark., took a credit card from a cus­tomer to pay for his meal. It was her own credit card, which had been in her purse that was stolen in a ser­vice sta­tion two days be­fore. She called the cops, who found the rest of her cards on the guy. It in­cluded her driver’s li­cense with her pic­ture on it.

• There was a big fuss in the news me­dia in Chicago when an of­fi­cial over­head elec­tronic sign on an in­ter­state high­way lit up the mes­sage, “No Tex­ting, No Speed­ing, No Ketchup.” (It has some­thing to do with Chicagoans tra­di­tion­ally dis­lik­ing ketchup on hot dogs.)

• And fi­nally, found in some old files: A pub­lic­ity man for the Earle The­ater wanted to get some at­ten­tion to the ap­pear­ance of Tommy Dorsey and his orches­tra. He ar­ranged for Dorsey and a few his mu­si­cians to come to the Philadel­phia Zoo on Dec. 31, 1939, along with some psy­chol­o­gists from the University of Penn­syl­va­nia,

The idea, sup­pos­edly, was to see the re­ac­tion of pri­mates other than hu­mans to the new kind of pop­u­lar mu­sic, swing. The mu­si­cians’ union got wind of the ex­per­i­ment, and ob­jected.

The ob­jec­tion got some early pub­lic­ity, and on the day of the sched­uled test, news­pa­per pho­tog­ra­phers and a news­reel cam­era­man were on hand. A keeper lined up three young chim­panzees, and the mu­si­cians be­gan their jam ses­sion.

The chimps grabbed their keeper in ter­ror and ex­pressed their emo­tions by emp­ty­ing their blad­ders. The psy­chol­o­gists later re­ported that they had come to no con­clu­sion.

But this col­umn of mis­cel­lany has.

Jim Smart

Of All Things

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