The People We Shall Overcome: Stupid People Humor
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THEY'VE FLIPPED: The announced merger between Chevron Corp. and Phillips Petroleum Co. hit a minor snag when it came time to name the new, combined, company. "Lots of names were suggested," a Chevron spokesman said, but it came down to Chevron wanting Chevron-Phillips, and Phillips wanting Phillips-Chevron. To decide, the companies had a special gold coin struck, and a group of executives tossed the coin. Chevron-Phillips won. (AP) ...Call it: heads the oil companies win, tails the gas-buying consumers lose.

DECISION FLOPPED: Murder, or manslaughter? A jury in Jefferson County Circuit Court in Louisville, Ky., couldn't quite decide, so they flipped a coin. Murder, came the verdict against Phillip Givens, 28, who was charged with killing his girlfriend. Rumors of the jurors' decision method buzzed around the courthouse and eventually got back to Judge Kenneth Conliffe, who declared a mistrial. "It's something I read about in law school," said Givens' lawyer, "but something I've never seen in 15 years of trial practice." (Reuters) ...Yep, in Kentucky they usually cut a deck of cards.

HONEY, IT'S FOR YOU: Accident investigators say the car was airborne for about 150 feet before crashing through the roof of Joanne and Mahlon Donovan's house in Derry, N.H., at 3:00 a.m. Driven by a 20-year-old woman who was later arrested for drunk driving, the car came through the ceiling and dropped right over the Donovan's bed. "The thing was right in front of my face," Mr. Donovan, 65, said. "I could feel the heat from the exhaust system coming through the sheets." Still, that wasn't enough to wake his wife. He had to shake her wake after the crash. (AP) ...There go any awards for "emotional damages."

A 1001 USES! Gemini Wink, 26, of Louisville, Ky., realized he was lost. While visiting a friend in Tampa, Fla., Wink waded into a swamp to shoot pictures of alligators. Taking along a roll of duct tape to mark his path, he was ready to head back around dusk when he couldn't find his marks. Afraid he would be eaten by 'gators when he fell asleep, he climbed 40 feet up a tree to keep out of their reach and -- using his ever-more-handy roll -- taped himself to a branch for the night. Wink's friend called for help when he didn't return by dark, and sheriff deputies found him in the tree, just 400 yards from his friend's house, so securely taped down that deputies had to climb up to help free him. (Reuters) ...Next week, Wink will demonstrate his new duct tape tiger snare during a breathtaking adventure in India. Don't miss it!

OK, BUDDY, COUGH UP THE EVIDENCE: After a jewelry store clerk said Rudolf Nyari, 64, of Hurst, Texas, had stolen a diamond tennis bracelet, police in Dublin, Ohio, searched him and his car. They didn't find it. "At first he denied he had the bracelet," a police detective said. "But once we told him we had the X-ray, he chuckled and joked." Officers had obtained a search warrant -- of Nyari's body. An X-ray showed he had swallowed the $17,000 bracelet, and it was still in his throat. "He drank several glasses of water and smoked cigarettes to build up enough phlegm to cough it up," the detective said. "It took about an hour." (AP) ...There you are, kids: the glamorous real life of a jewel thief.

SKY-HIGH PROPERTY VALUES: Plastic surgeon Dr. William Moore rented a backhoe to do some serious work in his yard in Boxford, Mass. It wasn't long before he called the gas company to report a "strong smell" of natural gas -- he apparently ruptured a gas main with the heavy equipment. Three minutes later, he called the gas company again. "The house exploded as he was making the second call," said a gas company spokesman. "He said, 'Forget it. The house is gone.' " The five-bedroom home was worth about a half-million dollars. The spokesman said Dr. Moore did not call before he started his project to find out if there were any gas lines in the area he was digging. (Boston Herald) ...Huh: apparently it DOES take a brain surgeon to know to check that first.

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE, THERE'S FIRE: A year-long study by England's University College London and the San Luis hospital in Palencia, Spain, finds that smoking reduces smokers' intelligence. "Our results indicate that persistent cigarette smoking into late life increases the risk of cognitive impairment," said Dr. Martin Prince of UCL, adding that the results are consistent with previous studies showing smoking reduces blood flow to the brain. (Reuters) ...Either that, or people who smoke are dumber to begin with.

YOU'RE A UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL, JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE: Despite strong opposition from parents, the city of Philadelphia, Pa., became the first large city in the U.S. to adopt a uniform requirement for all public-school students. "We need to be dealing with kids who cannot read or write," complained a parent. "People who make suggestions like this are people who don't spend any time in school." But to no avail: the policy goes into effect immediately. School administrators seem to like the idea, however. "I think it will help add to uniformity of thought," argued middle school principal Bruce Ryan. Yes, agreed teacher Bayyinah Abdul-Aleem, "I think it would really help because it would bring some sort of like-mindedness." (AP) ...Isn't that why Nazi Germany adopted uniforms for school kids?

MORE CERTIFIED EXPERTS OFFER THEIR TENTATIVE CONCLUSIONS: "Shooting Suspect Said Hot-Tempered", "Crashed Jet May Have Flown Too Low" -- AP headlines