Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News: February 24, 2011

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NEW NEWS…

A Tampa mother is defending her decision to stick her teenage son on a street corner with a sign that says, among other things, “GPA 1.22 … honk if I need education.”  Ronda Holder says she and the boy’s father have tried everything to get their 15-year-old to shape up academically. They’ve offered help, asked to see homework, grounded, lectured him and confiscated his cell phone. James Mond III’s indifference at a school meeting last week was the final straw. The next day, Holder made the sign and made her son wear it for nearly four hours.  Experts criticized the move as humiliating and ineffective, and someone reported Holder to the Department of Children and Families.  Holder insists she’s fighting for her child’s education.  ***MARLAR: On the plus side, having all of that experience standing outside with a sign means the boy is now qualified to be a teacher in Wisconsin.

Two TSA agents were busted at Kennedy Airport for stealing $160,000 in cash from the bags of air travelers, authorities said.  The men would screen bags looking for loot, then swipe the cash once the luggage was opened in a private screening room.  ***MARLAR: Their argument was that anyone who could afford to fly nowadays could certainly afford to tip the TSA agents.

Scientists are trying to determine whether a group of dwarfs in Ecuador — all of them living in a remote village on the slopes of the Andes Mountains — could hold the clues to cure cancer.  The members of the group, about 100 of them closely studied by researchers from the University of Southern California, almost never get cancer or diabetes. And they all suffer from mutated genes that lower their growth hormone activity, stunting their growth.  In an article published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers suggest that blocking growth hormone in full-grown adults, through prescription drugs or a special diet, could unlock the mysteries of cancer. ***MARLAR: In honor of the village, Randy Newman has rewritten his controversial tune, “Short People” to say “short people got no reason to be biopsied.”

If you miss a deadline and you need a really good excuse, the experts say there’s nothing more reliable than that old standby: “My grandmother died.” A survey of 175 undergrads and 106 instructors at Southern Illinois University shows that the grandma routine was the excuse most often used by students for late papers and missed exams. More importantly, perhaps, it was also the excuse most often accepted by professors. One of the instructors responding to the survey said, “In my 27 years, I have never had a dead grandfather – only grandmothers.” ***MARLAR: Sounds to me like homework is placing grandmothers in mortal danger.

RETRO NEWS: FORMERLY NEW, NOW NOT NEW, BUT STILL ENTERTAINING…

An Oregon woman is accused of bilking Target stores out of $30,000 in merchandise by switching the price tags of expensive items for those from 99-cent juice cups.  ***MARLAR: How could the Target cashiers not notice that there was suddenly a sale on 99-cent radial tires?

A barber in Amsterdam who once stabbed a customer to death with his scissors was arrested for stabbing another customer with his scissors.  ***MARLAR: How good of a haircut must this guy give to keep getting customers?

Dr. Keith Leonard is turning to horsepower in the face of rising gas prices. The Washington state dentist and his staff are riding to work on horseback. Leonard says more than half his dental assistants and office staff own horses, so Wednesday they saddled up and rode to work. Two others rode their bikes. Leonard says they can’t control how much the oil companies charge. But he adds for a day at least, they weren’t buying.  ***MARLAR: They just had to be careful in the parking lot to not step in any vehicle emissions.

A MOHR Access poll of mall shoppers nationwide listed the Most Annoying Words from Salespersons’ Mouths. They include “The computer is down,” “You’ll have to wait your turn,” “I’m new here,” “Ask the person over there,” “I’m on a break,” and “That’s the policy.” At #2 was “If it’s not on the rack, we don’t have it.” And the #1 most annoying phrase, with 29 percent of the vote, was the classic “That’s not my department.”  ***MARLAR: Which is doubly annoying if you hear it from someone working at the Sunglasses Hut kiosk.

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