Chuck Shepherd

By 2009, when Zimbabwe's central bank gave up on controlling inflation, its largest currency was the 100 trillion dollar bill — barely enough for bus fare in Harare and not even worth the paper needed to print it. However, that 100 trillion dollar note (that's "1" plus 14 zeros) has turned out to be a great investment for several astute traders in London and New Zealand, who bought thousands of them at pennies on the trillion and now report brisk sales to collectors on eBay at U.S. $30 to $40 a note — a six-year return on investment, according to a May report in London's the Guardian, of nearly 1,500 percent.

Government in action

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) in a May publication deriding the value of certain federally funded research, highlighted several recent National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation projects, such as the $13 million for exploring musical preferences of monkeys and chimpanzees; the $1.1 million judging whether cheerleaders are more attractive seen as a squad than individually; the $390,000 to determine how many shakes a wet dog needs to feel dry; and the $5 million to learn whether drunk birds slur when they sing.Also strangely included was the actually valuable study by Michael Smith of Cornell University ranking where on the human body a bee sting was most painful. He found, from personal testing, that "on the penis" was only the third worst — research that brought Smith a prestigious Ig Nobel Prize last year.


• Yahoo News Australia reported, with photos, about a man in Tallebudgera Creek on the country's Gold Coast who was swimming with his pet snake. The man, standing chest-deep in water, would toss the snake (apparently a carpet python) a few feet and, according to the videos, the snake would swim back to him each time. In the man's other hand, of course: a beer.

• In April, police on traffic patrol in Broome, in Australia's far northwest, stopped a 27-year-old man whose "several" children, including one infant, were unrestrained in his car while "cartons of beer" were "buckled into car seats," according to an Australian Broadcasting Corp. report. He faces several charges, including driving on a suspended license.

Transgender blues

Ms. Jai Dara Latto, 23, won the title Miss Transgender UK last September in London, but in February organizers stripped her of the title as being insufficiently trans, passing the crown to Ms. Daisy Bell. Officials had spotted Latto, who has worked as a "drag queen," in a BBC documentary wearing boxer shorts, and since switching underwear is usually such a crucial step for transgenders, officials concluded that Latto must not yet have made a sufficient-enough commitment to qualify for the title.

Unclear on the concept

Prolancia Turner, 26, was arrested on May 13 at a Vero Beach, Fla., outlet mall after she allegedly walked out of a Claire's store with unpaid-for earrings tucked into her waistband. Police reported her "crying and angry" and complaining that, "Everyone steals from this store. Why are you picking on me?"

Read News of the Weird daily at Send items to