Fetishes on Parade 

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Compiler's Note: Chronicling human folly gets harder every year because as foibles proliferate, the odd seems commonplace. These unbelievable-but-true news stories, however, stand out as the year's quirkiest.

Caught Stupid
When the police officer who stopped Douglas Glidden, 25, in Livermore Falls, Maine, found marijuana in his vehicle, Glidden insisted the pot couldn't be his because he had stolen the car. (Franklin Sun Journal)

When Guns Are Outlawed
Sheryl Claffy, 60, told police in Albuquerque, N.M., that her daughter, Cara Claffy, 35, hit her over the head with an electric vibrator during an argument (The Smoking Gun)

• Police arrested Christine O'Keefe, 53, after her daughter, Jessica Caldwell, 25, reported that the mother smacked her in the face with "a used diaper." (The Smoking Gun)

• German authorities warned that two women were robbing "mostly older women" by hypnotizing them. Police official Sandra Mohr said a 66-year-old Russian woman reported that the women "told her that they would read her fortune, but the next thing she knew she was back home sitting in an armchair, and all her jewelry and valuables had vanished." (Britain's Daily Mail)

Unclear on the Concept
Hoping to make solo diners feel less self-conscious, Tokyo's Moomin Café began seating them at tables across from giant stuffed animals representing characters from a Finnish picture book series. (Time)

Whistle a Happy Tune
After the military junta National Council for Peace and Order took control in Thailand, it embarked on a campaign to restore happiness by holding free band concerts and offering free haircuts and dessert. (Thailand's Samui Times)

Fetishes on Parade
Lonnie Hutton, 49, tried to have sex with an automatic teller machine at a bar in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Police officers who found Hutton waist-down naked said that when they took him outside and ordered him to sit at a picnic table, he "exposed himself again and engaged in sexual intercourse with the woozden picnic table." (Nashville's WKRN-TV)

• Edwin Tobergta, 32, was arrested for having sex with a pink pool float in Hamilton, Ohio. Police said it was his third arrest for the same act, although with different pool floats. (Louisville, Ky.'s WLKY-TV)

What Could Go Wrong?
Intending to calm students before final exams, St. Louis' Washington University had a petting zoo bring several animals to campus for students to cuddle. One was a 2-month-old bear cub, which promptly bit and scratched at least 18 students. (Reuters)

Mensa Rejects of the Year
Rescuers needed a stretcher to carry a tourist who hurt his ankle while climbing one of Scotland's highest mountains in his flip-flops. One of the injured man's companions was barefoot; the other was wearing sneakers. The three men explained they wanted to reach the top of Aonach Mor to experience snow for the first time. (BBC News)

Success Breeds Failure
Hoping to attract riders, city buses in Saint John, New Brunswick, began offering free wireless Internet service. It then announced it was discontinuing the service after it became so popular that the cost tripled. "We had a lot of people streaming and downloading very extensive files, and the usage got very high," transit commission general manager Frank McCarey said. (CBC News)

Second-Amendment Follies
A 51-year-old woman told police in Fremont Township, Mich., that she accidentally shot herself in the face when she slammed the butt end of a shotgun on the floor during a family dispute "to make a point." (Michigan's MLive.com)

It Happens
A United Nations survey found that more than a billion people in the world defecate in the open. Lack of toilets isn't the problem, the study concluded. "There are so many latrines that have been abandoned, or were not used, or got used as storage sheds," UNICEF statistician Rolf Luyendijk said. "If people are not convinced that it's a good idea to use a latrine, they have an extra room." (Reuters)

Lesson Learned
Danielle Shea, 22, admitted phoning bomb threats to cancel Quinnipiac University's spring graduation ceremony because she didn't want her family to discover that she wasn't graduating. She had accepted money from her mother for tuition but never enrolled. (New Haven Register)

When Bobbleheads Aren't Enough
Minor league baseball's Syracuse Chiefs offered a free funeral to the fan submitting the winning essay for the team's "Celebration of Life" night. (Syracuse Chief press release)

Expert on the Subject
Francesco Schettino, dubbed "Captain Coward" for abandoning ship ahead of passengers when the cruise liner Costa Concordia sank in 2012, gave a two-hour lecture on emergency practices to criminology students at Rome's La Sapienza University. Schettino lectured on "panic management" and used a 3-D model of the doomed vessel to demonstrate how to conduct emergency evacuations. (Australia's News.com.au)

Litigation Nation
Nigel Sykes, 23, sued the pizzeria he admitted robbing in Wilmington, Del., claiming that employees who tackled him and wrestled his gun away during the hold-up used "unnecessary" roughness to subdue him by "punching, kicking and pouring soup over my body." (Wilmington's The News)

Capitalizing on the Past
AOL reported it still has 2.4 million dial-up Internet subscribers, paying an average of $20.86 a month. Since its dial-up business costs little to operate, 70 percent of its revenue is profit. (The Washington Post)

DIY Law & Order
Police forces in England and Wales began asking crime victims to carry out their own investigations after having their car stolen or property damaged by looking out for potential fingerprint evidence, checking for witnesses and searching second-hand websites for their stolen property. (Britain's The Independent)

Gender Benders
California's Mills College became the first all-female college to admit men but only if they were "assigned to the female sex at birth" and legally changed their gender to male. (The Washington Times)

Show or Go
U.S. District Court judge Denise Casper upheld a federal deportation order for Eleutherios Spirou because of exaggerated claims made on his visa application. The owners of Copeland Pizza in Quincy, Mass., where Spirou worked since 1989, declared he was able to "exercise showmanship in preparation of food, such as tossing pizza in the air to lighten the texture." Spirou later admitted he doesn't actually throw the dough. "Even accepting Copeland's definition of the term 'showmanship' would require Spirou to perform his duties in a dramatic manner," Casper said. (Boston Herald)

Euphemistically Speaking
General Motors reacted to rampant recalls by directing its engineers to avoid using certain words when discussing GM automobiles to reporters. Among them: asphyxiating, deathtrap, disemboweling, genocide, grenade-like and powder keg. (Detroit Free Press)

For the Record
When Willie Hubbard called 911 to report a carjacking after he witnessed a woman getting thrown to the ground by a man who then drove off in her car in DeKalb County, Ga., the operator informed him it wasn't a carjacking but a theft. The two then hotly debated whether the crime was a carjacking or a theft, delaying police response for more than 30 minutes. (Atlanta's WAGA-TV)

Problems Solved
Temple University physicist Rongjia Tao proposed permanently protecting the Midwest from tornadoes by building giant walls—one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma to the east, and the third one in south Texas and Louisiana. Tao said the walls would need to be about 1,000 feet high and 150 feet wide. He estimated they would cost $60 billion per 100 miles. (USA Today)

• Hoping to reduce the estimated 50 tons of litter left by people climbing Mount Everest, Nepal ordered everyone descending to carry out 18 pounds of trash. The debris ranges from empty oxygen bottles, torn tents, discarded food containers and the bodies of climbers who died on the mountain. (The New York Times)

• Chinese officials considered using giant vacuum cleaners to improve air quality in polluted cities. The devices resemble a giant hula-hoop and use an electrified wire to attract smog particles. "It's not going to cure smog on a large scale," Dutch inventor Daan Roosegaarde explained, "but at least we can remind people what clean air looks like." (Reuters)

Slightest Provocation
Nadja Svenson, 22, was charged with stabbing her father in the chest outside their home in Londonderry, N.H., while the two were stargazing "and began arguing over where the Big Dipper and other constellations are in the sky," police Detective Chris Olson said. "It escalated from there." (New Hampshire Union Leader)

• Sheriff's deputies in Monroe County, Fla., said a woman reported that boyfriend Carlos Miguel Gascon, 27, choked her, poured coffee on her, cut the back of her leg with a knife, threatened to kill her while holding a knife to her throat, picked her up and slammed her down on a glass table, and then picked up his dog, slammed it to the ground and stepped on its neck because he "was angry at her because he had a dream she was cheating on him." (Miami Herald)

Compiled from mainstream news sources by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.

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