News » Curious Times

February 16, 2005



Russian police are reporting a steep increase in what they call "Gypsy Hypnosis," in which victims are robbed of great sums of money by total strangers who seem to be able to put them into a hypnotic trance. Detectives in Moscow process between 300 and 400 cases a year in which victims claim that a chance encounter with a stranger ends with them being swindled out of thousands of dollars. They claim that the stranger's intense stares, mesmerizing babble and warnings of curses on their loved ones somehow force them to hand over any amount of money. "These are people who have honed their skills to perfection; they have been pulling these kinds of confidence tricks on people for centuries, for generations," said one detective. "They are able to turn off their [victims'] inhibitory mechanisms and ram through their psychological defenses."

Other officers believe simply that people are scammed and then feel too embarrassed to admit it, so they concoct the stories of trances and hypnotism to avoid feeling foolish. "People don't want people to know they were stupid," said a specialist in gypsy crime in the United States.

Of course, Russian gypsies aren't too thrilled with criminal profiling and accuse the police of looking for a scapegoat for crimes they can't solve. "We don't commit bad things. We only do good things. We help people remove their spells," said one gypsy. "But the police, when they can't solve crimes committed in the big city, it's easy for them to blame us. They know where to find us. We are simple people who can't defend ourselves." (LA Times)


A Marine Corps commander has received some sensitivity counselling after admitting the obvious fact that there are plenty of people who are in the military because they actually enjoy killing people. Speaking at a forum about strategies for the war on terror, Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis amused the crowd with witty one-liners like this: "Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot ... It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you, I like brawling." After warming up the crowd with these charming remarks, he hit them with the real zinger, adding that "you go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil ... You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them." (Yahoo News)


A Houston woman has been charged with negligent homicide after her husband died due to an injection of three litres of sherry up his rectum. Tammy Jean Warner, 42, had routinely given her husband "sherry enemas" in order to get him buzzed as a medical condition with his throat would not allow him to drink alcohol. On this occasion, however, the partying got a bit out of hand as Warner delivered at least two 1.5 liter bottles of sherry up his bum, leaving him with a blood alcohol level of over six times the legal limit. Later that night, Warner found her husband dead in their bed. "I heard of this kind of thing in mortuary school in 1970," said police detective Robert Turner, "but this is the first time I've ever heard of someone actually doing it." And remember kids, don't try this at home, no matter how fun it sounds. (Houston Chronicle)


And another person gets to make a whole lotta cash off one of my brilliant ideas! This time it's porn star Jenna Jameson, who has unveiled a new line of cell phone ring tones featuring her voice talents as she moans, groans, and talks dirty to you in English or Spanish. "Rock stars make music tones, porn stars make moan tones," said the head of Wicked Wireless, which has already launched the service in several Latin American countries. They'll soon be expanding to North America, where you'll be able to get the porn star treatment for about $2.50 per moan, or $2.99 for naked pictures of Jameson to display on your phone. (CNN)


A Chinese man and his wife are being charged with running a bogus matchmaking service after the man matched up hundreds of single men with his wife. The couple had set up the fake dating service, offering men their choice of hundreds of rich and beautiful women. But, like doing a card trick for a 3-year-old child, the scammers simply matched up each man with the exact same woman, charging them each a membership fee of about $80, plus a consulting fee, a directory fee, and a charge for each date. (