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Home / Articles / Opinion / News Quirks /  Uneasy Riders
News Quirks

Uneasy Riders

By Roland Sweet
Posted // February 13,2009 -

Curses, Foiled Again
When a man waving a knife and demanding money walked into a convenience store near Ormand Beach, Fla., the clerk greeted him with his own knife and stabbed him in the chest. Brandon Haught of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office told the Orlando Sentinel the startled robber ran for the door, stopping long enough to grab a bottle of suntan lotion and throw it at the clerk.

• A man wearing a motorcycle helmet walked into a supper club in Muskego, Wis., grabbed an employee by the arm and, according to witnesses, shouted, “Give me the money, or I will shoot you.” Chef Erik Minor responded by bopping the robber on the head with a large aluminum spoon. The helmet broke the spoon in two, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but the blow distracted the robber long enough for Minor to grab him, put him in a headlock, dislodge the helmet and wrestle him to the floor. Police arrived and arrested Joey N. Geraci, 39.

A masked man tried to rob a carwash in Portland, Ore., but he dropped his gun, which fell apart. Employee Chris Truax told KGW News that as soon as the gun broke, he “knew it wasn’t a real gun.” Truax opened the cash register anyway, but as the robber reached for the money, Truax grabbed a power washer and sprayed the robber in the face. The unidentified robber fled.

Blame the Name
A man’s first name can predict his criminal tendencies, according to a study comparing crime statistics with a roster of more than 15,000 first names that the authors said reveals a distinct “name-crime link.” Reporting in the academic journal Social Science Quarterly, David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee of Pennsylvania’s Shippensburg University said the more unpopular or uncommon the name, the greater the chance the man will wind up in jail. Michael, for example, was the least likely name to be associated with crime, whereas Alec, Ernest, Ivan, Malcom and Tyrell were the most likely. “While the names are likely not the cause of crime, they are connected to factors that increase the tendency to commit crime,” Kalist said.

Chuck Shepherd, compiler of the syndicated column News of the Weird, has long chronicled the recurrence of the middle name “Wayne” among men arrested for murder. His latest list includes 224 with that middle name. “I suspect that aggressive-personality fathers during the 1950s and 1960s did in fact hopefully and disproportionately name their boys after that era’s icon of ruggedness, John Wayne,” Shepherd says on his Website (NewsOfTheWeird.com/wayne.html). “Beyond that, I dare not venture.”

Uneasy Riders
Citizens are skirting Nigeria’s new law requiring motorcycle-taxi passengers to wear helmets by donning calabashes (dried shells of pumpkin-sized fruit), pots, pans and pieces of rubber tires tied to their heads with string. “We will not tolerate this,” Yusuf Garba, commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission in the town of Kano, told Reuters after authorities made 28 arrests in the first six days since the law’s enactment. “We gave them enough time to purchase helmets.”

The owners of the motorcycle taxis complain that the helmets cost too much—at $5, they cost more than a week’s pay for 70 percent of Nigerians—and some passengers refuse to wear them because they fear they will catch skin diseases or fall victim to a black-magic spell. Newspapers quoted passengers as saying the helmets might be laced with magic spells so as to knock wearers unconscious and make them easier to rob.

God Bless America
At least 200 airline passengers have been convicted of felonies under the Patriot Act, often for simply raising their voices or using profanity, according to some security experts, who told the Los Angeles Times that airlines are misusing the law to criminalize incidents that aren’t threats to public safety, let alone acts of terrorism. The newspaper cited the case of Tamera Jo Freeman, who was arrested and convicted after a flight attendant confronted her for spanking her children. “We have gone completely berserk on this issue,” New York security consultant Charles Slepian said. “These are not threats to national security or threats to aircraft, but we use that as an excuse.”

Compiled from the nation’s press by Roland Sweet. Submit items, citing date and source, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

 
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