The Odd Truth, Feb. 3, 2003

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Bagel Lawsuit Hard To Swallow

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - A couple is suing the franchisee of a McDonald's restaurant, claiming an improperly prepared bagel damaged the husband's teeth and their marriage.

John and Cecelia O'Hare sued Friday for unspecified damages more than $15,000. They alleged the McDonald's, owned by Johnstone Foods Inc., was negligent and violated an "implied warranty that the food sold was reasonably fit for human consumption."

They contend in the suit that John O'Hare broke teeth and bridgework on Feb. 1, 2002 when he bit into the bagel. The suit did not say what exactly was wrong with the bagel.

The suit alleges the wife "lost the care, comfort, consortium and society of her husband." The couple's attorney, Tim Warner, did not return telephone messages left at his office.

Tracey Johnstone, owner of Johnstone Foods, said she never before had a bagel complaint and had no idea how it could have been prepared in a way that would damage teeth.

"It's a bagel," she said.

Man vs. Machine

NEW YORK - Chess master Garry Kasparov and supercomputer Deep Junior have tied the fourth game in their championship series.

The computer moved first, putting Kasparov on the defensive. Kasparov repelled its attacks until neither player could make progress and a draw was called.

The six-game Man versus Machine match is tied at two apiece.

Kasparov won Game One, and Game Two was a draw. Kasparov says he lost Game Three because of fatigue, not a problem for the computer. The fifth game is Wednesday.

Last night's game lasted about five hours and 61 moves, the longest of the series. The others have been around four hours or less.

Kasparov lost to IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in 1997. He claimed the computer may have been given hints by humans. Deep Junior has not lost a match against a human in two years.

Bush Budget Cites 'Space Aliens'

WASHINGTON - Proof that life exists outside the boundaries of Earth continues to elude scientists, but President Bush's budget suggests that "space aliens" may be out there.

And it could just be a matter of time before they are discovered.

In a brief passage titled "Where Are the Real Space Aliens?" Bush's budget document says several important scientific discoveries in the past decade indicate that "habitable worlds" in outer space may be much more prevalent than once thought.

The finds include evidence of currently or previously existing large bodies of water — a key ingredient of life as we know it — on Mars and on Jupiter's moons.

Astronomers also are finding planets outside the solar system, including about 90 stars with at least one planet orbiting them.

"Perhaps the notion that 'there's something out there' is closer to reality than we have imagined," the passage concludes.

The Recession Diet

BOSTON - Are bad times good for you? That's the contention of University of North Carolina-Greensboro economist Christopher Ruhm. He argues that when jobs get scarce, people take better care of themselves.

He says during tough times, folks are more likely to exercise, and less likely to skip doctors' or eat fattening restaurant food. During an economic slump, Ruhm contends that the obese and smokers are the most likely to change their unhealthy and expensive lifestyles. Ruhm's research is published by the National Bureau of Economic Research near Boston.

'Steer Party Mix'

NOTTINGHAM, Pennsylvania - Imagine a diet of potato chips, cheese curls and pretzels? It's enough to make just about anyone fat -- and that's just fine with Pennsylvania farmer Jim Herr.

He feeds his cattle leftovers from the family's nearby snack food plant. While the old chips aren't fit for human consumption, they're just fine for bovines. Herr calls his blend "steer party mix."

Pennsylvania State University researcher Harold Harpster says finding chips to the cows is a win-win situation. He says it keeps the discards out of the landfills, while the snacks are a nutritious and cheap animal feed.

Evil World Department

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - A NASA spokesman says it's "an evil world" -- one in which people are apparently trying to sell bits of the space shuttle Columbia.

He was reacting to news that people listed pieces of the shuttle wreckage on the Internet auction site eBay in the hours after the disaster. The site quickly removed the listings.

NASA's Bruce Buckingham says the debris is "government property" that people should not be collecting.

NASA hasn't verified the authenticity of the items on eBay, but Buckingham says "even someone pretending to sell something that came from Columbia is still bad."

The sheriff of Nacogdoches, Texas -- where much of the wreckage landed -- says there have been some cases of apparent looting.

He says there have been no arrests, but the FBI is investigating.

Singing Mailman Retires

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — The mail must go on, but the melodies will stop.

Charles Thompson, Bluefield's "Singing Mailman," has retired from the U.S. Postal Service after more than 33 years because recent knee surgery has hindered his ability to deliver mail.

Thompson is a member of the Scott Street Baptist Church choir and also sings mostly religious music at weddings and other events. He once sang "Happy Birthday" for a 90-year-old woman on his route.

"I can't deliver the mail on foot anymore," Thompson said. "I'm not really looking forward to" retirement, he said.

Thompson's last day was Saturday.

Army Worms On The March

SHIPROCK, New Mexico - Armies of worms are coming out of the ground in northern New Mexico to bask in the warmer-than-usual weather.

One Shiprock resident says they're "real icky."

But experts say the cutworms and army worms that residents see slithering across rangeland and up their walls aren't dangerous.

Entomologists say it's not unusual to see large numbers of army worms in pasture land. But they warn the worms might gather on roads and cause a slippery mess when cars run over them.

Army worms travel in large numbers and can "march" across relatively long distances in search of food. And experts says they could destroy winter wheat and other forage.

The region can expect the surviving creatures to turn into untold numbers of dirty gray moths in a few weeks.