News of the weird 

Choice Embryos, License Parenting?,"inappropriate physical behavior," more

LEAD STORY: Jennalee Ryan of San Antonio last year began selling choice human embryos, ready for prospective mothers to implant after having chosen from Ryan's catalog describing the contributors' education, attractiveness and medical history. "We're just trying to help people have babies," she told the Washington Post in January, and at less cost than full in-vitro procedures (since she has eliminated the risk of failed fertilizations). But, said a bioethicist, "It's like you're ordering a computer from Dell." (Ryan said she does not take custom orders.) Of her emphasis on well-educated, good-looking contributors of sperm and eggs, she said, "Who wants an ugly, stupid kid?"

Can't Possibly Be True: We License Fishing, But We Can't License Parenting?: 1) Shawn Mohan, 20, was arrested in January for shooting his infant son with a BB gun. Mohan said it was an accident, but the St. Charles County, Mo., sheriff pointed to similar bruises on the baby's face, left arm, hand, foot, hip and buttocks, and said Mohan was on probation for an earlier child-endangerment conviction. 2) Samaritans stopped on Interstate 465 in Indianapolis in December to help a wandering 3-year-old boy wearing only a diaper and T-shirt. Police tracked down his mother, Nancy Dyer, in her filthy apartment, where her 2-year-old daughter was eating spaghetti off the floor. Dyer's first reaction to news about her son: "Oh, he got out again."

Unclear on the Concept: The school system in Hagerstown, Md., issued a written reprimand in December to the parents of a 5-year-old kindergarten boy who had pinched a classmate's buttocks, terming his behavior "sexual" harassment. Said his dad: "He knows nothing about sex. There's no way to explain [to him] what he's been written up for." Also in December, the principal of a preschool in Bellmead, Texas, issued an in-school suspension to a 4-year-old boy after he hugged his teacher's aide with his face in her chest, which was termed "sexual contact and/or sexual harassment" (though following complaints, the offense was changed to "inappropriate physical behavior").

The Continuing Crisis: Daring young men use the danger of moving cars for attention, especially if there's a video camera rolling. An 18-year-old Topeka, Kan., man became the latest "Jackass"-imitating casualty when he bailed out of a car going 35 mph in October and suffered a serious head injury. Other video performers go "ghost riding the whip" (letting their cars coast in neutral while they climb onto the roof to dance), with at least two deaths reported. In the newest craze, Jonathas Mendonca, 22, was hospitalized in critical condition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in January after "skiing" (holding onto the back of a car) on Interstate 95 at 65 mph.

In September, according to sheriff's officials in Buffalo, N.Y., Thomas Montgomery murdered a 22-year-old workplace colleague in a love triangle involving a West Virginia woman, except that two of the three triangle characters were nonexistent. Montgomery, age 47, was pretending to be a young Marine in an online conversation with the woman, 45, who was pretending she was her 18-year-old daughter. The murder victim had also struck up an online conversation with the woman, apparently making Montgomery jealous, but the victim, ironically, was the only one in the triangle who wasn't someone else.

In January, a hospice in Great Britain run by Sister Frances Dominica approved the wish of a 22-year-old man (born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy), who wanted to lose his virginity before he died. The Douglas House hospice arranged for a prostitute to visit him at his family's home, and the man said afterward, "It was not emotionally fulfilling, but the lady was very pleasant."

Least Competent Criminals: Easy Collars: Nicholas Raber, 19, was arrested in Annapolis, Md., in December for punching a police officer and dashing up a flight of stairs after yelling, "You'll never catch me." The officers were aware that upstairs exits were locked and so waited patiently for Raber to come back down and be handcuffed.

Failures to Keep a Low Profile: 1) College student Cory Shapiro, 19, was arrested in January after he flagged down a police officer to complain that he had been overcharged for drinks at the Athens, Ga., bar Bourbon Street. 2) Sunday school teacher Edgar Selavka, 49, was arrested after he reported to police in Northampton, Mass., in January that someone had stolen his backpack from church; shortly afterward, police found the backpack in a nearby restroom, with its contents on the floor, including at least 11 child-pornography photos.

© 2007 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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