Chuck Shepherd

Divorcing couples who cannot decide who gets to keep a treasured family home leave the decision to a judge, and in October, a court in Moscow ordered a couple to build a brick wall dividing in two their expensive house in an elite neighborhood. Apparently contractors' measurements have been taken, and the couple have assumed dominion over their respective areas, even to the extent that a friend of the wife had become "trapped" on the husband's side and prevented from leaving until she called emergency services. Furthermore, the wife must have a second stairway built, as the existing one is on the husband's side.

Must be 'pig Latin'

American gangsters traditionally use euphemisms and nicknames ("Chin," "The Nose") to disguise criminal activities, but among details revealed at a November murder trial in Sydney, Australia, was that members of the "Brothers 4 Life" gang might have used "pig Latin." In a phone-tapped conversation played in court, one of the men on trial was overheard cunningly telling a henchman that a colleague had been "caught with the un-gay in the ar-kay." A helpful witness then took the stand to explain to the jury that the defendant thus knew there was "a gun in the car." At press time, the trial was still in progress.

Scientific gibberish

An "academic" paper composed entirely of gibberish was accepted for a lecture at the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics in Atlanta last month. Prof. Christoph Bartneck of New Zealand's University of Canterbury said he began writing (using Apple iOS) by entering "atomic" and "nuclear" into his tablet and "randomly" following whatever "autocomplete" suggestions emerged. (Sample sentence: "The atoms of a better universe will have the right for the same as you are the way we shall have to be a great place ..." Conclusion: "Power is not a great place for a good time.")

Not a good idea

A 23-year-old man in Tampa, Fla., was hanging out with his cousin in September, and nearby were a gun and a bullet-resistant vest — and the result was predictable. According to police, the first man donned the vest and said he wondered whether it "still worked"; the cousin picked up the gun and said, "Let's see." The cousin, Alexandro Garibaldi, 24, was charged with manslaughter.

Should have hailed a cab

In October in Orlando, William Edwards, 28, leaving the Dancer's Royale strip club at 2:30 a.m., started his truck, drove, fell out, had it run over his leg, and saw the truck drift down a street and into a home, injuring the occupant. Also in October, a 25-year-old man in Scugog, Ontario, backing his car down his driveway with the door open, fell out, had it run over his leg, and saw it hit two mailbox posts. Both times, as in nearly every similar case, alcohol was involved.

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