Update: Experimental “natural orifice” surgery might be healthcare’s next big thing following its U.S. introduction last year at Columbia University (as reported also in “News of the Weird”), where doctors removed a woman’s diseased gall bladder not by an abdominal incision but through her vagina. In March, doctors at UC-San Diego Medical Center removed a woman’s appendix through her vagina, and a man’s through his mouth. (A microscopic camera must be inserted through the abdomen, however, to guide the surgeons.) Pain and healing time are usually less than half that of ordinary surgery, but the risk of internal infection is greater. The next step, doctors say, will be removing kidneys through the anus 

Government in Action! 

A Maryland governmental fund created to assist “innocent” victims of violent crime has paid out nearly $1.8 million since 2003 to injured (or deceased) “drug dealers, violent offenders and other criminals,” according to an investigation by the Baltimore Sun published in March. Burial expenses were awarded for a carjacker, a victim of an inter-gang killing and a sex offender who was fatally beaten in prison. The Maryland courts have ruled that as long as the applicant was not engaged in a crime at the time he was injured, he must be considered for an award. 

The Associated Press reported in March that “dozens” of locked-up sexual predators are receiving federal aid to take mail-order college courses through Pell grants, even though prison inmates normally are ineligible. Sex offenders who have completed their sentences, but are held for “treatment,” are not technically “prisoners,” and many have spent their stipends on “living expenses” such as DVD players, in that they have no “room and board” expenses. 

Great Art! 

Graduate art student Matthew Keeney’s latest piece of performance art, in February, called “The Waiting Project,” had him standing on streets in Syracuse, N.Y., waiting for someone to ask him what “The Waiting Project” is. In previous pieces, Keeney had held a “Super Bowl party for one” on a park bench, had earnestly watched ice sculptures melt, and had walked from the Capitol steps in Washington, D.C., to the Lincoln Memorial but stopping each time he heard a car horn and then starting again when he heard another. 

Two aggressive art pieces sexualizing Jesus’ Last Supper were displayed earlier this year: Among the 74 plaster models shown in Gateshead, England, in January by British artist Terence Koh was one of Jesus and several disciples sporting generous erections. And in March, a retrospective of Austrian Alfred Hrdlicka went on display in the Cathedral Museum in Vienna, with the blessing of the archbishop of Vienna, even though it included a painting of the Last Supper as a “homosexual orgy,” in Hrdlicka’s description (because, he said, there were no women in the original Da Vinci painting that inspired it). (That piece was removed during the first week, after complaints.) 

Last year, Montreal, Quebec, artist Michel de Broin created, as art, the hollowed-out shell of an old Buick powered only by a four-seater bicycle (with hand brakes, or, failing them, Fred Flintstone-type brakes). Nonetheless, when a group took the car out for a spin last October, an overzealous officer ticketed them for “driving” an unsafe “car,” but in April, after a daylong court hearing, the charges were dropped. 


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