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Chuck Shepherd

It is legal in China to sell electric "building shakers" whose primary purpose apparently is to wreak aural havoc on apartment dwellers' unreasonably noisy neighbors. Models sell for the equivalent of $11 to $58 — each with a long pole to rest on the floor, extending ceiling height to an electric motor braced against the shared ceiling or wall and whose only function is to produce a continuous, thumping beat. Shanghaiist.com found one avenger in Shaanxi province who, frustrated by his miscreant neighbor, turned on his shaker and then departed for the weekend.

Can't possibly be true

Mats Jarlstrom is a folk hero in Oregon for his extensive research critical of the short yellow light timed to the state's red-light cameras, having taken his campaign to TV's "60 Minutes" and been invited to a transportation engineers' convention. In January, Oregon's agency that regulates engineers imposed a $500 fine on Jarlstrom for "practicing engineering" without a state license. The agency, in fact, wrote that simply using the phrase "I am an engineer" is illegal without a license, even though Jarlstrom has a degree in engineering and worked as an airplane camera mechanic. He is suing to overturn the fine.

Get paid to stay in bed

Earn $17,500 for two months' "work" doing nothing at all! France's space medicine facility near Toulouse is offering 24 openings, paying 16,000 euros each, for people simply to lie in bed continuously for two weeks so it can study the effects of virtual weightlessness. The institute is serious about merely lying there: All bodily functions must be accomplished while keeping at least one shoulder on the bed.

Sidewalk wars

• Thirty-four residents of State Street in Brooklyn pay a tax of more than $1,000 a year for the privilege of sitting on their front stoops — a pastime which, to the rest of New York City, seems an inalienable right. The property developer had made a side deal with the city to allow the tax in exchange for approving an architectural adjustment.

• The town of Conegliano, Italy, collects local taxes on "sidewalk shadows" that it applies to cafes or businesses with awnings, but also to stores with a single overhanging sign that very slightly "blocks" sun. Shop owners told reporters the tax felt like Mafia "protection" money.

Young love

Emily Piper and her husband went to court in January in Spokane, Wash., to file for a formal restraining order against a boy who is in kindergarten. Piper said the tyke had been relentlessly hassling their daughter (trying to kiss her) and that Balboa Elementary School officials seem unable to stop him.

Least competent criminals

• Edwin Charge Jr., 20, and two accomplices allegedly attempted a theft at a Hood River, Ore., business on April 23, but fled as police arrived. The accomplices were apprehended, but Charge took off across Interstate 84 on foot, outrunning police until he fell off a cliff to his death.

• Police said Tara Cranmer, 34, tried to elude them in a stolen truck on tiny Ocracoke Island, N.C., on April 22. Since it is an island, the road ends, and she was captured on the dunes after abandoning the truck.

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