Friday, December 29, 2006

Hajj is here: Over the next two weeks, gobs of Muslims will make the pilgrimage to Mecca, and martyrs are expected, usually in stampedes when too many people gather to stone the devil. Here’s a BBC News rundown of the lowlights since 1987, which have ranged from 14 dead in 2003 to more than 1,400 in 1990. One smartass on set "this yr’s over/under at 290."

Hillbilly, of Hillbilly Heaven, pleads no-contest: There’s a lot going on with Robert Hale, 65, in Alaska. He’s the son of a football All-America, lived for 20 yrs on a Jack Nicholson-owned farm, once eloped with the daughter of Governor-to-be John Connally of Texas, became a born-again Christian, and home-schooled his 3 kids to read only the Bible and bathe with their clothes on. He purchased a farm ("Hillbilly Heaven") in Alaska with saved-up state oil-tax handouts. He became a local legend when he defied the federal gov’t on a land issue. And he just pleaded no-contest . . to raping one of his daughters.

Two trends merge in Japan—"booms" (where everyone follows the leader on any hot new trend) and specially-bred designer dogs. So, if people decide they want things like a white dachshund or blue some-other-dog, breeders swing into action and make lots of them fast, and that requires multiple inbreeding of recessive-trait dogs, which means deformities runneth over. Yow.

As previously announced, this 6-day-a-week weblog is publishing only Mon-Wed-Fri until January 3, when regular posting resumes . . . . . And whether you live in Florida or not, there’s robust cynicism and absurdity in Yr Editor’s daily column, The F State (uh, daily except not so daily during this holiday season).

Below The Fold
In a Chicago suburb, someone stole a 48-ft trailer full of, er, broccoli . . . . . India’s Tamil Nadu state is turning severely populist, politically, with the in-power DMK party handing out 90,000 TV sets to people who voted for them, with gas stoves to come . . . . . A court in India has awarded a family damages for the auto-collision loss of an elephant not as if it were property but "at par with a human being" . . . . . Man about to be arrested punches Annapolis cop, yells "You’ll never catch me," runs up stairs, discovers all exits locked, sheepishly wanders back down to cops . . . . . Ms. Miyoko Kawahara, 59, was already looking at a yr in the Joint for driving a neighbor crazy by playing loud music for months at a time, but a judge gave her 8 more months when the magnitude of her crime dawned on him . . . . . And if all of the invitations to your friends’ New Year’s parties have, y’know, gotten lost in the mail, you can spend some time here—watching cheddar cheese age.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

In this season of year’s-best lists, Yr Editor is finally abstaining. Oh, I’ve been wanting to go on the wagon for a while now, but the Washington Post Outlook editor kept enabling me. He fled the paper months ago, and this yr, there was no call. (But if I find out next Sunday that they replaced me with anything other than a staff-written piece, I’ll—why, I’ll—I . . just don’t know what I’ll do.)
As previously announced, this 6-day-a-week weblog is publishing only Mon-Wed-Fri until January 3, when regular posting resumes.

Below The Fold
Several Nigerian scammers who probably just can’t afford Internet access tried to steal oil from pipelines in Lagos, resulting in explosions that killed at least 260 . . . . . Sounds Like a Joke: Recent environmentalist crackdowns in India mean snake-charmers are having to do their shtick without snakes . . . . . A fistfight in a jail cell in North Platte, Neb., was started by Brian Bruggeman’s farting (and apparently his fists are as strong as his SBDs) . . . . . Germany’s new pro-procreation law kicks in on Jan. 1, offering the equivalent of up to $33k, and apparently about-to-deliver pregnant women are working hard to delay the drop . . . . . South Korea has an incentive plan for the new year, too: The Ministry of Gender Equality (that’s, uh, the real name) is giving prizes to companies based on the number of male employees who pledge not to go whoring following the holiday office party . . . . . Breakdown of the year-end bonus given to Goldman Sachs chairman Lloyd Blankfein ($53.4m, not counting his salary, $600k): $100 for every single minute of the year, awake or not . . . . . An Australian researcher said the cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii not only endangers pregnant women (as has been known) but can make men stupider (that’s bad) and healthy women more sociable and promiscuous (not so bad).

Monday, December 25, 2006

Abu Ghraib II: Something called the UK Noise Association is "suggesting legal action" against certain retail stores for "torturing" their employees, by making them listen to holiday music over and over . . and over . . and over and over, for heaven’s sake. [Fortunately for the Salvation Army, most of its bell-ringers are volunteers, so their two-hour torture, and repetitive wrist injuries, might be exempt.]

Are you man enough? Nat’l Public Radio has been reporting on a reclusive Baptist cult in the Missouri Ozarks, at which bad, bad allegations (of the kind you usually get with reclusive cults) have been flowing. In the latest, a 33-yr-old breakaway described the now-arrested leader, Pastor Raymond Lambert, as fostering a good, spiritual, Christian community . . except for when his self-described "family curse" took over. When a female misbehaved, she said, Lambert would force her to strip to undignify herself. Said an adult male breakaway, "[Lambert] said during the meeting that sex was a man’s desire and a woman’s need, and that a woman needed to be kept by a man of God." The woman, again: "He told my brother, who has three young daughters, he said, ‘David,’ he said, ‘you’re not man enough to go upstairs and [f] your daughters, are you?’ And [David] said, ‘No, I wouldn’t want to.’ And [Lambert] said, ‘Well, I am.’"

Editor’s Obsessions
Prosecutor Nifong, in the Duke lacrosse/rape case, dropped the "rape" part on Friday, state law apparently requiring a penis for that, and the complaining witness no longer certain it was a penis that penetrated her, although since she also mentioned ejaculation, that leaves the possibility, I guess, of a finger boil that burst. ("Sexual assault" charges remained, carrying about the same penalties.) However, based on the NY Times report (even though written in part by the ever-so-gullible "Duff Wilson," who bought the accuser’s version lock, stock, and barrel from the outset), Nifong at least seems to have had a game plan all along. It’s a disgraceful, unprofessional game plan, but at least it wasn’t ADHD. Nifong apparently decided on Day One that, given the black-white divide in Durham, and especially the black-rich divide, that he would ride this one out on the accuser. No matter what the evidence, if she stuck by her story, he wouldn’t fold on her. This, of course, violates what every prosecutor in America swears he or she stands for: seeking the unvarnished truth. Nifong decided on Day One that he’d rather be the person criticized for stringing three probably-innocent rich white guys along on a humiliating, life-altering journey than be the person vilified in black Durham for following the evidence. (And in the end, he rationalized, "justice" would prevail because the Dukies would walk.) OK. We expect our prosecutors to have guts (think, Rudy Giuliani challenging the NY mob back when it was the real mob), but it doesn’t always work out that way. Next scheduled step: At the pre-trial hearing in February, when called on to point directly to her "sexual assaulters," she will fold, and Nifong will drop the charges, and his Day One strategy will be complete. The only question is whether she will fold before the hearing (after her lawyer, and Nifong’s prosecutors, describe what she’s in for on cross-examination). Actually, Nifong might fear this, since it leaves her the option of backing out, then feeling remorse (at letting down black Durhamites), and then accusing Nifong of pressuring her, and there goes his best-laid Day One strategy. (New, new, "next scheduled step": Because of a serious question about Nifong’s withholding one piece of crucial evidence from the defense, judge or governor forces Nifong to recuse himself; new prosecutor takes a look at the evidence and drops the case in a heartbeat.)

That’s Messed Up
UConn has decided to spend money to build an actual town where the current strip mall called Storrs is, so, y’know, students can feel part of a community, like, seriously, this is where higher education is these days . . . . . Even though the free market is foreign to Storrs, it’s alive in the Russian and Bulgarian mobs, which are upgrading the illegal adoption racket in Greece by fulfilling orders for custom-made babies pumped out by the pretty gals . . . . . The cost of transporting a dead body from death scenes to the morgue is a $100-or-less job in most large cities in the Midwest, but not Chicago, where the city just gave a $915/body contract to a company already drowning in service complaints (according to a Chicago Tribune investigation) . . . . . The Pope decided he won’t sign off on the pearly-gates pass for Piergiorgio Welby, who was apparently a good Catholic except for the part about having to suck up that excruciating pain when the end is near.

As previously announced, this 6-day-a-week weblog is publishing only Mon-Wed-Fri until January 3, when regular posting resumes.

Below The Fold
A Colorado city disabled by a blizzard of . . tumbleweeds! . . . . . A NY woman suing a plastic surgeon because her saline breast implant wound up in her armpit . . . . . A British woman, tired of contractor delays on fixing her apartment, locked two supervisors in a closet until they promised to speed it up (and forced a police siege) . . . . . Ferrari didn’t make enough 599 GTB Fioranos (at $250k) to satisfy the number of Wall Street money managers demanding them . . . . . A Tonbridge, England, Christmas pageant with the Beach Boys' Wilson brothers as the 3 Wise Men ["God Only Knows," OK, but "Fun, Fun, Fun"?] . . . . . A judge overturned the election for state auditor in Vermont because of miscounted ballots [Oh, how Yr Editor hates states that can’t even count their votes!] . . . . . The sad story of the late Pablo Escobar’s hippopotamuses, abandoned, and now raising hell . . . . . An Alabama lawyer under 45-day suspension, with the state supreme court clamoring for more punishment, has nonetheless been sworn in as a judge . . . . . Zimbabwean debate: Mugabe’s spinners say rats are a "delicacy," but the peasants disagree . . . . . An unidentified man set himself on fire in Bakersfield, Calif., to protest the school district’s decision to start calling its winter and spring breaks "Christmas" and "Easter" . . . . . And here, to help you review for the exam, is a link to World Net Daily’s compilation of teacher-student sex perps [I know, teachers having sex with their students—what’s the world coming to?].

Friday, December 22, 2006

At the ceremony transferring power in Najaf, Iraq, U.S. officials watched as Iraqi commandoes macho’ed up: "One man knelt, placed [a] rabbit belly-up on his lap, and proceeded to cut it open with his military knife. He screamed as he bit the rabbit’s heart, then handed the carcass to his companions who began gnawing away, blood flowing down their cheeks." Similarly reminded of the Darwinian chain of command: couple of frogs.

Robot Anti-Defamation and Action League: One of the papers submitted at the recent request of the UK gov’t’s chief scientist, hypothesizing about "the future," reminded readers that if we create sensitive robots, we’ll have to give them "rights." But then, of course, with rights come responsibilities, the paper went on, meaning the duty to pay taxes and submit to a military draft.

Master chef Michael Ennes spends three days a week at the Broadway Presbyterian Church shelter in New York City, not as a server, but as the actual chef, creating healthful food that attracts the picky homeless. He taps the charity programs and his own sources of donated food (like day-old bread from the fancy Le Bernardin). Serving an upscale clientele is also a turn-on for him (referring to a few delusionals): "George Bush has eaten here. So has Jesus Christ [and] George Washington . . .."

Turkmenistan’s megalomaniacal Suparmurat Niyazov, one of the most prolific Newsmakers of the Weird (four reports since 2002), just had his term end this week (since he was "president for life"). Among his exploits: changing the names of the seven days of the week and the 12 months of the year; insisting that all licensed drivers pass a morals test; and planning to build a huge, natural-habitat zoo for a large array of species, including penguins, in the country’s desert.

Ms. Kimberly Baker, an unfortunate actor in a News of the Weird story this week [NOTW 984, 12-17-2006], hails from Warrensburg, N.Y., rather than Warrensburg, Va.

As previously announced, this 6-day-a-week weblog is publishing only Mon-Wed-Fri until January 3, when regular posting resumes.

Below The Fold
A federal appeals court said North Carolina could ban erotic movements in its liquor-licensed clubs, even among the fully-clothed . . . . . A former top-of-the-line narcotics officer (800 busts) has flipped and will now sell a video teaching people how to hide their stashes (after concluding that the war on drugs is a mess) . . . . . 3 tons of uranium fell from a truck on I-95, but it was low-grade, and sealed, and besides, it was just North Carolina . . . . . An in-labor woman trapped by the snowfall in Fort Collins, Colo., was pulled out of her home in a front-end loader and swung over to the ambulance . . . . . Dick Wolf is on this one right now: Joshua Bush was shot in the head by a man he tried to rob but is fighting doctors who warn that they need to take out the slug, but Bush knows that if they match the bullet, he’s cooked . . . . . In Benton, La., an unnamed couple are feuding with each other over whether it was their dog, or their ferret, that gnawed off four of their baby’s toes . . . . . The Lord: "Hey, pal, I said you need to move!" (Fire took down David Ritchie’s Indianapolis home, the same one hit by tornadoes in 2002 and 2004) . . . . . Even if you’re checking the bag instead of carrying it on, and even if you’re a surgeon, you can’t have luggage that blood is seeping out of . . . . . Perfect storm for a British woman who was born with 2 wombs: Got pregnant in both simultaneously, delivered 3 urchins.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Scamming the Poor Horny Panda: Australia’s The Age, in a dispatch from Sichuan, China, reports that pandas are procreatively thriving now, thanks to wildlife people’s having outsmarted them. It has already been reported that they used mating videos ("panda porn") to show the bears how, and perhaps unwisely tried giving the males Viagra, but The Age is talking real scam: How do you get males to mate with the dowdier females?

The "trick" is to put a fertile and attractive female into a breeding pen, where she leaves scratchmarks and droppings capable of exciting a male. But, at the last moment, the females are swapped. The zookeepers introduce a new, less popular [female] who has been scented with the urine of the more attractive animals. She is introduced into the mating pen rear end first, so the male cannot see the face of his partner until they have finished copulating. "When the males find out, they get very angry and start fighting the female," Mr. Zhang [Hemin] says. "We have had to use firecrackers and a water hose to separate them."

The New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, apparently jam-packed with oh-so-good-doers, distributes about 1.5 million condoms a month to anyone who asks (even in increments of up to 10,000 over the Internet). All the recipients have to do is promise to pass them out for free within the city, but that’s all on the honor system. (The LifeStyles "ultra-lubricated" that the City distributes sell for about $1 each in drug stores.)

Best Headline (from an AP dispatch on the Wall Street Journal website): "Wal-Mart Workers in China Set Up Communist Party Branch" [The story, from another source with only a slightly-less-delicious headline, is here.]

Can’t Possibly Be True: Sharon Taylor, giving birth at Calderdale Royal Hospital, West Yorkshire, England (according to Britain’s Halifax Courier): "Ashleigh . . . shot out of her mother at such speed that her father failed to catch her, and instead she skidded across the floor and bounced back on her umbilical cord."

A Colorado psychic named Natalie Roberts was sued for charging the lovelorn Timothy Strating $170k yet failing to get his mojo back for him. [Buried lede: There’s actually a guy in Montana sensitive enough to pay a psychic the amount of $170,000 to help him meet women.]

A BBC reporter wandered through China taking in one of the most underrated of all pleasures: the foot-washing. Yes, they’re offered at non-brothels. And no, they’re not expensive (equivalent of, at most, $18, for an hour and a half, since the washers are mostly hustling peasants from the countryside saving for a better life). "I reflected on how it is now China, with her cheap and willing labor, that is massaging the feet of the West. But as I enjoy the easy luxury that my English pounds can buy, I wonder how long it might be before it is the other way around."

Recurring Theme: A Reuters reporter in Mexico City is the latest to have the idea to interview the deep-sea diver who settles for a gov’t job of unclogging a city’s subterranean raw-sewage flows (containing dead car parts, dead animals, and occasionally dead people). In pitch blackness. Fighting water currents. (Tell us what you really think, Julio [Julio Cesar Cu]: "I like diving as a sport. As a job I like it even more. I do a job that benefits a lot of people.")

Hon. Marion Barry got detained again (again . . again) on a traffic stop. It doesn’t look too serious, but Yr Editor didn’t know that he drives a green Camaro, which is significant because he believes it’s such a rare car in D.C. that cops can easily spot it and target him for harassment. Imagine. Marion Barry. Green Camaro.
Yr Editor told you last Friday [Backstage, 12-15-2006] that you’d be hearing more about this. The Brit who claimed the equivalent $6.6m for getting "sexually disinhibited" as a result of an accident at work has now won and will get the equivalent of about $5.9m.

As previously announced, this 6-day-a-week weblog is publishing only Mon-Wed-Fri until January 3, when regular posting resumes.

Below The Fold
An axe-wielding German farmer objected when gov’t inspectors came to enforce a law requiring that cow pens have access to daylight . . . . . A flight school training craft (3 aboard) crashed into a raw sewage tank at a wastewater facility in Gilroy, Calif., leaving no survivors . . . . . The newest variation in an old, old theme (at a bar near St. Louis): mashed-potato wrestling! . . . . . Muslims upgrade: For January’s Eid al-Adha (feast of sacrifice), they can buy the cow or goat to be sacrificed for the poor, over the Internet, and then watch the actual sacrifice . . . . . 70,000 Santas (actually, Grandfather Frosts), marching in Moscow (but a reporter warns that it’s actually kinda Stalin Youth rather than the spirit of the season) . . . . . A marijuana-reform activist, making good use of gov’t stats, estimated the total US pot crop last year was $35 billion, or more than corn and wheat combined . . . . . Brit Richard Townsend falls short, eating only 36 in one minute (versus the world record of 43), and unfortunately, what we’re talking about here is Brussels sprouts.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Brilliant: Kevin Sutherland, 45, arrested in Salt Lake City for downloading child porn, says he’s innocent, in that he personally disapproves of child porn but that his shrink says he has multiple-personality disorder and that one of those MPD inhabitants happens to be a teenage boy who likes to look at nekkid pictures of teenage girls.

Least Competent (1) Australian model: She screamed hysterically at a riverside park in Adelaide, "Where’s my baby! Someone’s stolen my baby!" Turns out the 5-month-old’s buggy had rolled into the river when mom got distracted by a cell phone call. By the way, the story did not end well. (2) Gov’t Agency: That would be the Pentagon’s Guantanamo operation, in that the Associated Press has found, for instance, that the Afghanistan gov’t couldn’t come up with anything to charge the 80-plus Afghans with who were supposedly dangerous enemy combatants when the Pentagon finally shipped them back home. The same was true of about 120 others who were returned to their countries.

Recurring Themes: The latest site of rowdiness that police were forced to use crowd-control weapons at because people couldn’t line up in an orderly fashion for the right to pay $135 for sneakers (that are virtually no improvement over Stephon Marbury’s Starburys, at $15): Louisville, Ky.
Here’s a Los Angeles Times story on why people might believe that it’s a miracle that the skillet burns on a tortilla resembled the supposed face of Jesus.

(1) Our old friend King Wangchuck (no relation) of Bhutan is retiring, he the proud creator of "gross nat’l happiness" as a measure of his reign and his kingdom the place with a continuing legacy of tributes to the almighty clinton [NOTW 903, 5-29-2005]. (2) The NY Post says Miss USA Tara Conner is much more than an underage drinker [Backstage, 12-16-2006]. Even back home in Russell Springs, Ky., she ran with the Oxycontin-and-paint-thinner crowd. In NYC, apparently, she slept with every man with a pulse. [Note to Conner’s lawyers: That was a joke, using "exaggeration" as a humor construct.] (3) Here’s the Lead Story from NOTW 901 (5-15-2005):
Windsor, Ontario, hair stylist Waddah (Martin) Mustapha was awarded the equivalent of about US$270,000 by a court in April after he testified that he became racked with depression upon seeing a fly inside a commercial bottle of water at his salon. Presumably, damages would have been more if Mustapha had actually drunk from the bottle (or even opened it). As it was, he and his wife vomited, and he required extensive psychotherapy for nightmares, loss of sense of humor, increased argumentativeness, lack of desire to shower regularly, and constipation.

Well, on Friday, Canadian law came to its senses.

For the next 2-1/2 weeks, Yr Editor will be in low-news mode, in that there is less weird news plus fewer newspeople around to report it. Hence, I will post only Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week and the following week (including Christmas and New Year’s day), and won’t return to everyday-posting until Wednesday, January 3. And although I love all my readers, it's none of my business whether or not you have happy holidays.

Below The Fold
UFO paranoids are thinning out in Whitehorse, Yukon, according to the Whitehorse Star (which, believe it or not, carries News of the Weird) . . . . . PETA is really upset about Dwayne Page, 27, already convicted for having sex with a dog, because he violated probation by viewing websites about "diapers for sexual arousal" . . . . . Unclear on the Concept: Larry and Donna Charpied have been fighting for nearly 20 yrs to keep an ugly dump away from the picturesque edge of Joshua Tree Nat’l Park, but take a look at the Charpieds’ longtime headquarters.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Below The Fold
Clowns need good fortune, too, so 200 of them marched through Mexico City on Wednesday to their annual prayer at the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe . . . . . A 3-yr-old boy wet his pants, so the obvious solution for the skills-challenged custodian: toss him in the dryer for a few minutes . . . . . Miss USA Tara Conner, not yet 21, is on the verge of being defrocked of her crown after one-too-many bouts of (underage) boozing . . . . . In Union, S.C., the unluckiest man in America (in that he’s the only one, out of five zillion violators, who got caught illegally parking in a handicapped space) . . . . . Assault with deadly (or at least hep-C-laden) choppers . . . . . The Project on Gov’t Oversight charged (and Dept. of Energy has not yet denied) that excessive pressure applied to a warhead caused a "near miss" of an explosion (but, relax, it was only Amarillo, Tex.) . . . . . Manuel Uribe, who weighed 1,316 lbs., is down to 965 thanks to The Zone diet, and he looks great! [Warning! Here’s the link, but do not click it! Warning!] . . . . . Don’t call it a "do-nothing Congress" because it did enact 383 pieces of legislation in 2 yrs (even though about 100 of those were about naming federal buildings, including a post office named after Karl Malden) . . . . . [Aren’t you sorry you clicked that fat-man link? I tried to help you.] . . . . . Julie Figueroa, 43, will serve at least 9 months’ hard time for making her kids take nude pictures of her (and on top of that, she got attitude when the bailiffs cuffed her) . . . . . Terry Cook, working the counter at a Git-N-Go in Des Moines, Iowa, is one smart cookie, in that, if he sees a thumb sticking up out of a perp’s pocket, that’s a good sign the perp’s just pretending to have a gun, but nonetheless Cook had to argue with the guy for a few seconds about whether he had a real gun before the guy finally gave it up and walked out.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Tipping Point on Outsourcing: Ship your manufacturing job overseas, tough noogies. Ship your call-center job overseas, tough noogies. Ship legal work overseas, that’s different! You’re messing with the wrong people. DuPont and other companies have moved about $80m/yr of their legal work to lawyers in India, and this thing might catch on.

Literary Nastiness: It looks here like Michael Crichton was supremely ticked at a New Republic review of State of Fear and took out after the reviewer Michael Crowley in his new novel Next by naming a minor character "Mick Crowley," with the same alma mater and occupation as Michael and then describing Mick’s crime of raping a baby and maiming him despite Mick’s having a small clinton. Michael Crowley accuses Crichton of using the "small [clinton] rule" of defamation, which is to cleanse any libelous statement you write by accusing your target of having a small clinton, thus pressuring him not to speak up. Neat.

You’ll Be Reading About This for a While: Brit Stephen Tame, 29, has filed a claim for the equivalent of $6.6m against his employer for a head injury, even though he has completely recovered physically. The trouble, he said, is that the injury scrambled his brain and left him severely sexually disinhibited (porn, prostitutes, extramarital affairs, and a very disapproving wife).

Update: That snot-nosed, Jeannette, Pa., kid who meowed incessantly at the neighbor lady (and who lied about it, swearing that he only did it twice) [Backstage, 8-25-2006] caught a break when everyone got tired of litigating the harassment case.

Below The Fold
Location, Location, Location: It’s the office whose windows open onto the parking lot underneath Seattle’s best suicide landing spot . . . . . Unintelligent Design: a deer with 7 legs and both genders! (and no, you can’t see it, because the guy who ran across it was hungry) . . . . . Iowa escapee charged with escape, plus theft (i.e., the handcuffs he was wearing) . . . . . Tired of ridicule, villagers in Fjuckby, Sweden, petition to change the name . . . . . The Russian post office has finally started delivering the, er, 4.5 tons of mail from the U.S. that had been held up in Finland for, er, 8 yrs . . . . . Britain has its own problem with senior drivers: a 70-yr-old pilot let his single-engine plane take off without him . . . . . Another reason not to snort cocaine (i.e., you don’t know where it’s been): 81-yr-old woman caught smuggling cocaine in her panties . . . . . Take a look at this lovely couple, and you can see why the Lord was making it so hard for them to conceive (But damn that Internet! They found sperm!) . . . . . A Detroit Tigers official disclosed why relief pitcher Joel Zumaya, who had blown away the Yankees in the first round of this yr’s playoffs, went limp in the World Series: Too much "Guitar Hero" video game weakened his wrist (seriously) . . . . . And more seriously, how can you ever get any work done if you give interviews on "circumcision" studies for the World Health Organization and your name is Kevin De Cock? . . . . . Birth of 1,000 Punchlines: A Quebec man receives a mechanical heart that constantly pumps blood so that he is, his doctors say, the only living Canadian without a pulse.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More Christmas-Season Tales from Britain: For the first time in 260 yrs, the Christingle service at Chelmsford Cathedral will take place without children carrying ceremonial candles; despite an injury-free record, someone feared that the kids’ hair might catch fire, so they’re using glow-sticks. And when Alan Parkin was asked to remove the lights from his huge, outside Christmas tree, he decided to have it seriously trimmed, too, into a shape fitting of his South Yorkshire town of—Penistone. [Yes, of course there’s a photo]

Crisis at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Ass’n: Rev. Franklin G. wants mom and pop to be buried at a kinda evangelical fund-raising exhibit near Charlotte, but the rest of the family objects, and the problem is that Billy and Ruth are barely with it these days. Ruth did have the energy to enlist her long-time friend, crime writer Patricia Cornwell, who reported that visitors to the exhibit would be welcomed by a mechanical cow (in tribute to Billy’s early days on the farm) and that she was "horrified" at how "truly tacky" the whole thing is. Billy, naturally, said that he would pray for a solution.

Chutzpah: A wild-driving New Jersey cop got a ticket (and then got fired) for zooming around a marked state police cruiser and now files a lawsuit against the troopers for not showing him enough collegial love, in that he says it’s the troopers’ fault because of their pettiness at being dissed by someone passing them on the right, which is just not done. Ever.

Hill Street Blues Nostalgia: Sgt. Stan Jablonski’s "Let’s do it to them before they do it to us" tagline on the daily stationhouse briefing came to life last week in San Bernardino, Calif., when County Supervisor Josie Gonzalez addressed sheriff’s deputies on staying safe during the holiday season (according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin): "Shoot first and ask questions later. I’ll take care of the lawsuits."

Below The Fold
After sorting through all the evidence about that August British airliner terrorist attack (that led to the ban on liquids), a Pakistani judge couldn’t find any "terrorism" and shipped the prime suspect off for mundane criminal prosecution . . . . . Oh, the European Union must love this: Maintenance workers for Turkish Airlines celebrated a successful job by sacrificing a camel at the Instanbul airport . . . . . The 7-foot-9 Inner Mongolian herdsman who is Guinness’s tallest man saved a dolphin’s life by reaching down its throat (or whatever they call it) with his 41-inch-long arm and pulling out some plastic thingee . . . . . Least competent aerospace company: Boeing announced someone had stolen another laptop computer with another 382,000 company workers’ data on it (just like that time in November, except that one only had 161,000 names) . . . . . A sheriff’s deputy was indicted for fatally shooting an unarmed teenager (he said he heard gunfire), but then, he wasn’t, because it turns out the grand-jury foreman had just checked the wrong box on the form . . . . . An 82-yr-old man, blinded in one eye in a World War II explosion, got kicked in the head by a horse at Monticello (N.Y.) Raceway, which apparently readjusted his optical settings. He's fine now. Seriously.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The German Versions of U.S. Sen. Ted (the Internet is a series of tubes) Stevens: Apparently, several legislators in the German states of Bavaria and Lower Saxony are drafting bills to make it a crime for video-game players to inflict "cruel violence" on human-appearing characters in the games. This, of course, is a response to some odd, lone game-player who went nuts recently and killed some real people, and the legislators are certain that the millions of violent-game players who don’t kill real people are surely just ticking time bombs.

F-$tate Trailer Tra$h
The all-mobile-home community of Briny Breezes, Fla. (owned outright by its 488 residents), on the Atlantic just south of Palm Beach, accepted a bid by Ocean Land Investments and will sell its entire 43 acres for $510 million, which works out to, er, $1.045 million each.

Inside NOTW
The "10 Most Bizarre People on Earth" includes our old friend Alfred Merhan Nasseri, and the Japanese guy who is certain he is Jesus Christ, and a couple of others Yr Editor has featured as they have come up in contemporary news stories. [Link from Fortean Times]

Below The Fold
"Mom is over the top," "everything she does is over the top," said the adult daughter of Melody Howell of Rock Hill, S.C., on Mom’s 52 large, fully-decorated Christmas trees throughout the house . . . . . The principal of Needham (Mass.) High School said no longer will the honor roll be published in the local newspaper because it causes too much stress in our "high expectations-high achievement culture" . . . . . Cops found the 42-inch plasma TV that Radisson Hotel employee Richard Perez was seen on video taking from the property; it was under his Christmas tree, wrapped, with a card: "[to] Mom, Honey Bunny from Big Papa, Daddy" . . . . . Univ. of Illinois-Chicago researchers will study the secret lives of urban squirrels (which, among other things, dig holes to pretend to bury nuts while lipping the nuts, to fool eavesdroppers) . . . . . Virginia high school art teacher Stephen Murmur is in trouble for his part-time flamboyancy: He paints with his naked ass (but, hey, he tried to disguise his ID, by calling himself Stan Murmur).

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Inexplicable in Knoxville: It looks like a garden-variety fraud, but was it perpetrated against the claimed victim, or by him? It looks more like he is the victim, but then if he is out $1.8m now, why does the perp’s "ill-gotten gain" look like an "ill-gotten never-was-anything-to-begin-with"? And why would the "victim" even deal with an e-mail guy named Ahmed Kudizoo? Yr Editor has a headache.

Inside NOTW
Well, Yr Editor has never run the story, but several dozen people have pitched it to me over the years: the well-known urban legend of Richard Gere and the gerbil. Now, Sly Stallone tells the MSNBC gossipmeister that Gere probably thinks Sly started it after he got Gere fired from a 1974 movie.

Below The Fold
Failure of imagination: An Australian was jailed for 9 yrs after he twice in a month dressed in his mother’s clothes and robbed the same business . . . . . Police in New Zealand had the bright idea to distract a wayward teen from a life of crime by sending him to class to learn about computers, but you can guess how that turned out (A Hacker Is Born!) . . . . . At the Asian Games, a silver-winning Japanese female wrestler was called away from her press conference by her dad, who was so angry at her for not winning gold that he ordered her to drop down and give him 50 on the spot . . . . . In Karachi, pro-rape activists protested the new anti-Sharia law, demanding a return to the minimum-four-witnesses rule . . . . . A 28-yr-old, none-too-subtle, illegal Muslim from India was detained after the Nationwide Tractor Trailer Driving School in Smithfield, R.I., reported him for having three driver’s licenses and not being interested in learning how to back the rig up . . . . . A Denver evangelist resigned because he’s gay (no, not that one) . . . . . The Bishop of the London borough of Southwark is on the verge of early retirement after he got plastered at a reception, climbed into a stranger’s car, threw some things out the window, and staggered home (leaving church property behind) . . . . . Joe Jackson walked in to a Chicago law firm on Friday and killed three people (before police killed him); though he had a rap sheet, he had apparently tried to turn his life around by inventing a toilet for long-haul truckers (until a patent lawyer spoiled his glory).

Monday, December 11, 2006

More Xmas madness: (1) The municipal gov’t of Kingston upon Hull, England, has barred garbage collectors from wearing their Santa hats because "it does not create a professional impression." (2) A resident at Britain’s Onley Prison wrote to an inmates’ publication that he doesn’t want to see any damned festive occasions this season because that only makes him feel worse about being in the joint. (3) Port of Seattle officials ended the 25-yr tradition of Christmas trees around the Seattle-Tacoma airport, which was remarkable mainly for the swiftness of decision: Trees went up; one rabbi asked to put up a menorah; all trees came down (so they can defer deciding an official policy until January).

Speaking of rabbis, Israel has solved a pressing problem: the concern that "electricity" wasn’t kosher. They’ll spend about $10m to have their electrons OK’d by the ultra-Orthodox. (How do you make "electricity" kosher, anyway? Apparently, just make sure the plant is operated by observant Jews, i.e., install enough automatic equipment that nobody has to work the Sabbath. And the ultras were serious; thousands had used private generators for years.)

Cmdr. Bainimarama had his little coup in Fiji [Backstage, 12-1-2006], and now the prime minister is unemployed, and Bainimarama is placing classified ads in the newspaper for new cabinet ministers.
Oh, it’s an old standby story that Yr Editor has had the privilege of trotting out for years, as always good for a chuckle or two, but a new UN report underscores the issue: The greatest threat to the climate, forests, and wildlife on this planet is . . . livestock. It’s not only sheep ‘n’ cow farts, though. It’s the energy consumed by ranching, the water contamination by poops, and other things.

Below The Fold
Just as Frank Costello slipped little Colin Sullivan money as a kid (in The Departed) to win his later allegiance, some forward-looking criminal mobs in Britain are targeting teen hackers as young as 14 to come work for them . . . . . Some gov’t programs can work very well, as the federal Supermax prison in Colorado has received a 5-star endorsement by none other than anti-abortion bomber Eric Rudolph: "Supermax is designed to inflict as much misery and pain as is constitutionally permissible" . . . . . In Oregon City, Ore., a mother was charged with stabbing her adult son for taking the popcorn she had popped for herself, and then, at the hospital, the son worried that he was really in trouble because he had bloodied one of her precious towels while stopping the bleeding . . . . . Turns out one of the Air Force’s top lawyers (29 months on the Bush White House staff, commandant of the JAG school) has been disbarred since 1984.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Berlin opera house thinks the city is ready, security-wise, for a Mozart show starting December 18 that features the severed (plaster-made) heads of Muhammad, Jesus, and Buddha, but you know what happens when you insult Buddha. The Buddhist fundamentalists riot, blow up airliners, start suicide-bombing! Relax, though: The heads are missing from the opera house’s prop room, anyway.

Recurring Theme: Debates Roil Churches.
(1) "Churches in Britain are a ‘toxic cocktail’ of bullying and terror, as parish priests struggle to lead congregations dominated by neurotic worshipers who spread havoc with gossip and manipulation," according to a Church of England report, one of whose authors warns of a new illness, "irritable clergy syndrome."
(2) Southern Baptist Convention continues to debate Acts 2, and First Corinthians 14, hoping to gain wisdom about whether to ban "speaking in tongues," or it may be that they just don’t much like Pentecostals or Assemblies of God or the wealthy T.D. Jakes.
(3) Christian stand-up comedian Brad Stine now runs the anti-Promise Keepers, which he calls GodMen, condemning the wussification of the church and urging male believers to cowboy-up. ("Thank you, Lord, for our testosterone!"). Cuss, make loud noises, deal with your penis. Tell your wife: "Learn to work the toilet seat. You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down."

Below The Fold
A UK unemployment-office regional manager in South London has banned Christmas decorations, but not for why you think: He says he doesn’t want to lay a happiness trip on jobless people . . . . . Police in Hagfors, Sweden, say they have finally used up a 1986 gross-overorder of supplies, most notably of toilet paper . . . . . Mass hysteria of adolescents isn’t just for the Third World anymore: try 32 fainting pupils removed by ambulance in South Yorkshire, England, but no organic cause was found . . . . . Gov. Timothy Kaine is apparently down with the program of Virginia governors who historically experience the paranormal while living at the Executive Mansion . . . . . The Utah Supreme Court grapples (at oral argument) with whether a girl, 13, who has consensual sex with her boyfriend, 12, can be simultaneously a victim and a perp ("The only thing [in the law] that comes close to this is dueling," said a Justice) . . . . . The "accountant" recently hired by the Dallas school district to fight fraud is revealed to have been de-certified as a CPA in 1996 . . . . . A sort-of free-lance disciplinarian appeared at the Mount Zion Christian Academy in Morrow, Ga., falsely claiming to be a relative of misbehaving kids, and whipping one.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Continuing Campaign to Establish the Absolutely Perfect Society
In August, an 18-yr-old woman boarded a Long Island Rail Road train shit-faced and then fell between cars to her death. Now, a member of the board of New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority has proposed to close down the trains’ bar cars. A spokesman for the LIRR said 2,000,000,000 passengers have ridden in the last 23 yrs without a single alcohol-related incident, and now this guy wants to shut down the bar cars.
The administrator of a pre-kindergarten near Waco, Tex., notified parents that their 4-yr-old urchin had engaged in inappropriate "sexual contact and/or sexual harassment." The kid rubbed his head against the chest of a female employee.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused this week to interfere with Congress’s required sentence that Weldon Angelos, since he was caught selling drugs while carrying a weapon, gets 55 yrs in prison, no ifs ands or buts. The Supremes thus rejected a brief filed by 145 federal prosecutors and four former U.S. attorneys general, pointing out that that sentence is 2x what would be given to someone who hijacked an airliner. No matter, said the Supremes (implicitly): It’s Congress’s call, and Congress believes we can’t be perfect until we eliminate marijuana.

Inside NOTW
Reader Mathew suggests a simpler, better way of phrasing what I meant to say when I inadvertently agitated the reader sensitive to transsexuals. I should just have written "female-to-male transsexual." That sounds a lot better to me than it must have sounded at the time I was composing the item. My bad.

Speaking of bads, yesterday I totally blew the link to my other weblog, The F State. It’s fixed now, and here’s the correct one again. Good stuff today, too (always posted later in the day, though): I might not even have enough room to mention the guy who was doing marine research on whether the Garden of Eden (that’s the Biblical Garden of Eden) was actually located where Tarpon Springs, Fla., is now.

Below The Fold
South African ethnic Ndebele girls still do the traditional, month-long, becoming-a-woman rituals (cooking, housekeeping, intimacy), but they handle graduation all modern-like, giggling on cell phones to their friends . . . . . Quebec authorities filed charges against 19 people in an enterprise that used helicopters to chase moose around until they’re tired so that dilettantish "hunters" can more easily bag them . . . . . The Yokohama (Japan) Municipal Gov’t denied a hospital the right to name itself the Yokohama Mammary Gland and Gastrointestinal Hospital, which it says is somehow inappropriate . . . . . Nature reports this week that one species of bat has a tongue longer than its entire body . . . . . At a Dillard’s store at a mall in Mentor, Ohio, a fire broke out, with smoke everywhere, but Christmas-frenzied buyers still wouldn’t leave, and security guards had to stand at the door to keep shoppers out . . . . . Scott Kundar, 32, was sentenced to 9 months in prison for repeatedly calling three teens at home and asking about their feet . . . . . Calvin Fluckes, 21, was arrested at a suburban Detroit Wal-Mart for trying to pass an $848 counterfeit check, and there might have been a tussle over who got to make the collar, since 80 uniformed cops were in the store at the time for a charity event (with 40 squad cars in the parking lot).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The F State
Yr Editor is purposely trying to avoid cross-posting items from the brand-new weblog, The F State [LINK CORRECTED], but some of the stories certainly manage to rise above their Florida-ness. In the last couple of weeks or so, you would have learned of the ethical pedophile ("I do have morals, you know, because under [age] seven is nasty."); the passing of the world’s largest woman (who also holds the record for having lost 736 lbs); that lyin’ little wench Serena Williams; that love triangle featuring, as jiltee, Mr. Taj Mahal Owens; the Florida election that ran smoothly (but unfortunately was only of Venezuelan citizens lining up in Miami to vote for Hugo Chavez); "I’m more careful in my kitchen handling chicken than [Jacksonville Naval Hospital is] with their [surgical] patients"; the same-day breaking news of (1) the conviction of "Ronnie One Arm" Trucchio for muscling into the valet-parking business in Tampa for the Gambino family and (2) the rescue of the nude, coke-smoking Adrian "Righty" Apgar from the jaws of a 12-foot gator (with the name "Righty" being supplied by Yr Editor based on the outcome of the Apgar-gator match); a major state agency continually, blatantly, in-your-face-refusing to obey a court order to follow a simple state law requiring mental-health treatment; and so forth. Ain’t Florida great?

Half of the lead story in this week’s NOTW [982, 12-3-2006] was wiped out Tuesday when NY state officials decided not to let trannies change their birth certificates so easily. The proposed change (a doctor’s and a mental-health counselor’s signatures, plus having lived two yrs as the other gender) had reportedly been a shoo-in to be enacted.

Below The Fold
A couple in the state of Mpumalanga in South Africa have been ordered by their village elder not to do their thang until 10 p.m. because their screeching bothers their TV-watching neighbors . . . . . Latest highway truck spill: on I-205 in Vancouver, Wash., a quarter-ton pig (that was uninjured in the fall or by the traffic, but whose prognosis is nonetheless grim) . . . . . Jihadists are apparently worried about online security, too, as evidenced by the inaugural edition of the 64-page publication Technical Mujahid . . . . . The drunk did the right thing by calling a taxi to get home but then sorta defeated the purpose by jacking the taxi and driving it home, himself . . . . . Two Swedish border guards quietly over time compiled their own photo binder of hotties ("exceptionally beautiful" only) whose credentials they have checked (and photocopied) . . . . . When the going got tough in India’s West Bengal state (a recent spike in murders and accidental deaths), the people responded decisively—by heading over to two trees that had previously been "married" so as to facilitate prayers in times of crisis . . . . . A hardy Washington state backwoodsman (took no food or camping equipment) was rescued after being trapped in a blizzard—and was arrested because he had remembered to bring his marijuana . . . . . Des Moines, Iowa, police detective: "[If four college kids are] going to have a bottle rocket war, it would be a lot better to do it outside."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Inside NOTW
A reader objected that I referred to the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the NY Transit Authority [NOTW 982, 12-3-2006] in the which-gendered restroom dispute as a "transsexual man" when the plaintiff is currently a female and formerly a male. I actually thought carefully about this wording when I wrote the piece and decided to value clarity over "[whatever adjective you choose] correctness." The weirdness in this episode to me is that men taking leaks are much less fearful of a masculinized Bonnie walking in on them than are women taking leaks fearful of a feminized Barney walking on them. To economize on space, I referred to the lead plaintiff in question as a "transsexual man," which I thought better conveys the fear. (And yes, economizing is very important to Yr Editor, since the News of the Weird column is still primarily a print-newspaper feature.)

Yr Editor didn’t post yesterday and is still plagued by an intermittently-spirited cable-modem connection that will be addressed by a witch doctor from the ISP on Friday (between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., they say). Until then, there may be posts, or not, as the gods dictate. The only thing I’m sure of is that I can’t possibly do the story-collecting work for this weblog via dial-up.

Below The Fold
An all-saleslady car showroom opened in Riyadh (because Saudi chicks can own cars but just not drive them) . . . . . A 19-yr-old man, escorting his mom to her gate at Indianapolis Int’l Airport, was arrested because he was wearing his bulletproof vest (which he said he forgot he had on, but then said he thought maybe they’d be terrorists at the airport) . . . . . The Murfreesboro, Tenn., man robbed that bank, he said, because his life was going south, capped by his dog eating his parrot . . . . . A Rock Hill, S.C., mother has her son, 12, arrested for opening his Christmas present early after she told him not to . . . . . A St. Louis woman shot her husband dead because, it says here, he had served her beer that was warm . . . . . An American Airlines flight made an emergency landing in Nashville after passengers smelled matches burning in the cabin, and after an investigation concluded that a woman struck several matches because she had been farting . . . . . A scholarly hallway discussion in the Technology Dept. at Northern Illinois Univ. ended when one professor clobbered the other with a metal bar . . . . . The driver of a float in the Anderson, S.C., Christmas parade was arrested after he got frustrated at the slow float in front of him and raced around it, speeding down the street (and alcohol was involved) . . . . . In New Zealand, the drunk (passenger) leading the blind (driver), but not very well . . . . . And also in New Zealand, Maori elders declare success after spraying Waikato River water on two highways to free up the spirits of crash victims.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

NOTE: Due to (as they say) technical difficulties, today's post will be delayed until 4 p.m. New York time.
[UPDATE: It's 4th down and 30 right now for Yr Editor, tech-wise, so I will punt for today. Back tomorrow.]

Monday, December 04, 2006

Loophole in Sharia: An Iranian man is being hunted for making a hard-core porn video with a popular TV actress (with both of ‘em facing an orgy of lashes, at least, and maybe a capital stoning). However, their defense is that they had entered into one of those Islamic temp marriages [NOTW 942, 2-26-2006] just before the videocamming started (and he divorced her immediately afterward), making their act sacred. And, since he said the original video had been stolen, they are basically blameless for the epidemic of at least 100,000 copies circulating on the streets of Tehran.

OCD Bingo: First, that grandmother was busted last week in Arizona for dealing dope so she could play more bingo [Backstage, 12-2-2006]. Then Floyd Kinney Jr., 49, pleading guilty in Allentown, Pa., to raping two underage girls, said he did it to get back at his bingo-obsessive wife for abandoning the marital bed four days a week to play.

Good News / Bad News: Stevie Long, 4, was successful in scaring off two home invaders who had been holding a gun on his mother, her boyfriend, and four children; Stevie had quietly excused himself, put on his Mighty Morphin Power Ranger outfit, grabbed a plastic sword, and then burst on the scene, yelling, "Get away from my family!" The startled men fled empty-handed. The bad news is that a counselor, after talking to Stevie, said that the kid "fully believed he morphed" into the Power Ranger.

Hell of a Guy: The former chairman of Canadian Tire, Earl Joudrie, passed away on Thursday at 72. He was memorable for a 1995 incident in which his wife Dorothy shot him 6 times and left him for dead while she poured herself a stiff drink. When she came back to check on him ("Aren’t you dead yet?" she supposedly asked), he struck a deal with her that if she’d call 911, he wouldn’t say anything bad about her. And he kept his word. (She was charged with the crime but beat the rap.) Said a friend (who is Canadian Tire’s main shareholder), "[H]is morals were so high that [even] the under-duress promise was a promise that he would keep."

Al-Qaeda to start work immediately on genital bombs: Transportation Security Administration said it would install the first of the "Backscatter" full-body weapons-screening systems, at the airport in Phoenix, after having worked out almost all the privacy-concern kinks involved in making under-clothes photographs. TSA said it has figured out a way to blur out the genital area when screeners scan the babes and hunks making their way to the gates but that that won’t defeat the purpose of the machines.

Below The Fold
Big failures at "critical thinking": Two Brits on an ambulance crew drove two hours to deliver a patient (destination 8 miles away), and then two hours back, because of mindless obedience to a satellite-navigation doohickey . . . . . America’s only cockfight teacher, age 82, retired, but reminisced to a reporter about his 77-yr love affair with the "sport" . . . . . A Michigan House bill would make it a crime for a boyfriend if he broke up while his girlfriend is pregnant (and she chooses to abort) . . . . . Two Mississippi inmates voluntarily ran down an escaping colleague (which should sit well with their other colleagues) . . . . . Arrested in Dothan, Ala., after 33 yrs on the lam: convicted murderer Billy W. Hayes . . . . . The Vidor, Tex., school board is once again at full strength after a man was named to replace Mr. Ivan Croak, who, er, died.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A bureaucrat must have gotten carried away, said the Fairfax County (Va.) Board; we’re not prohibiting homemade gift food for the homeless [Backstage, 11-30-2006] . . . . . The ex-mayor of Appalachia, Va., pleaded guilty to 233 felony counts of vote fraud in a case that came to light when one woman complained that she was offered pork rinds to vote for him [NOTW 945, 3-19-2006].

Below The Fold
Sounds Like a Joke: Columbia Univ.’s graduate J-school is investigating evidence that prospective journalists cheated on a take-home ethics exam . . . . . At Brock Shepherd’s Rice Bar in Toronto, "bacon-infused vodka" (Mmmm, vodka!) . . . . . See, this is the kind of thing you depend on Yr Editor to inform you of: the "Giraffe Studbook" . . . . . A granny in Arizona was busted with 214 lbs. of pot, which the prosecutor said she was dealing, to feed her bingo habit . . . . . A 20-yr, mid-level CIA guy was fired for his avocation of serial burglar, including of 1,074 pairs of women’s panties . . . . . Bogus tree surgeons finally get busted after they slip up and offer to trim one homeowner’s tree that is actually a utility pole covered in ivy . . . . . Near Meadville, Pa., three men with rifles deerjack a hunter of his fresh meat . . . . . It's not your redneck niece's meth anymore: Guy set up a lab in his NYC penthouse because he couldn't find good meth on the street . . . . . Speaking of bureaucrats getting carried away, a freshly-discharged guy in a waiting area at Tameside General Hospital in Ashton, England, doubled up in pain and fell to the floor, but they just handed his adult daughter a phone and told her to call 999 (911) . . . . . Yikes! A rabid bat mingling with the patrons at the Forum 4 Theaters in Uvalde, Texas.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Notes from the American underbelly: Anthony Capone, a spokesman for the website (a clearinghouse for people to report snitches), told the Associated Press: "If people [snitches] got hurt or killed, it’s kind of on them. They knew the dangers of becoming an informant. We’d feel bad, don’t get me wrong, but things happen to people. If they decide to become an informant, with or without the web site, that’s a possibility." [ was recently suspended.]

The Laws of Irony Are Strictly Enforced: At St. Albans City Park in Charleston, W.Va., the city gov’t has put out a creche every December for ten yrs, including this yr. Why is that not unconstitutional? It’s because there’s no Jesus, no Mary, not even three Wise Men. It’s just the well-known scene of Jesus’s birth but only the building, straw, and a couple of animals. Militant Christians don’t like it, but the city manager, defending his work, inadvertently hit them where it hurts: "What it looks like [i.e., the manger, or something else] depends on [their] imagination." Uh, hey . . ..

Recall that at Castro Valley High School (south of San Fran), a group of parents went nuts last month because their little dears weren’t picked for the team by the obviously ignorant girls’ basketball coach and so won a school board concession that an independent panel would pick the team [Backstage, 10-23-2006]. Well, the independent panel didn’t pick any of those girls, either, and now the parents are really mad! What’ll they demand next? [Kofi Annan know anything about basketball? Jimmy Carter?]

Below The Fold
Cmdr. Frank Bainimarama, the head of the military in Fiji, announced yesterday that he plans to overthrow the gov’t some time today if they don’t do a couple of things that he wants . . . . . Jennifer Stark, 19, got a whole six months’ non-reporting probation and a $1k fine for a DWDRT that caused a bicyclist’s death (Driving While Downloading Ring Tones) . . . . . Jacqueline Vulch got 8 yrs in prison for injecting her 12-yr-old nephew with H and coke in January (but at least she appears to have finally gotten her act together since the crime, as you can see from this picture) . . . . . 17th-century Cumbria county, England, had severe problems with violence, as apparently the Nat’l Frying Pan Association was successful in blocking frying-pan-control . . . . . At something called the Institute for Condom Consistency in Singen, Germany, they’re working on a space-age spray thingee that a man can stick his thingee into, and it comes out all coated with rubber, and voilá! a custom fit.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The odder the fetish, the easier it might be to get away with it. For instance, since pee and poops are not universally considered prurient behaviors, a fetishist of that persuasion might try to be a biologist, so that when he worked with his own inventory, he'd look legitimate. Similarly, an alleged foot fetishist, like, say, former Catholic school principal Robert Holloway, 50, of Lorain, Ohio, could just be an affable administrator and, for example, schedule a student-teacher volleyball game and make a blowhard bet that if the teachers somehow lost, the principal would have to, oh, kiss winning players' feet.

Chutzpah: Morgan Conatser, 29, having shoplifted a full-size guitar from a store in De Queen, Ark., stuffed the whole thing under his clothes and walked away. But then shop owner Clifton Lovell saw the stiff, oddly-bulged Conatser shuffling out the door and asked, "What have you got there?" Conatser failed to give the only plausible reply, which would involve a sclerosis of some sort plus several cystic growths in odd places.

No Longer Weird: Yr Editor is officially weary of the scrap-metal (currently, copper) thieves who steal from live electrical lines. Here’s the last one I’ll be reading (from San Bernardino, Calif.).

Aha! Here’s how the world works! That LA firefighter who had managed a $2.7m payoff from the city for race-oriented hazing (but which the mayor vetoed after seeing videos of the same firefighter, himself, engaged in hazing) [Backstage, 11-22-2006] showed up on Tuesday to plead his case for the city council to once again make him rich: Yes, he did several of those pranks, but but but, he said, those pranks were done out of "love" (including shaving the pubic hair of a firefighter bound to a gurney), whereas when someone puts dog food in your spaghetti, that is obviously racism, and $2.7m is the only way to set things right. (The city council voted to re-investigate.)

Below The Fold
Gene and Elinor Coleman celebrated their 77th wedding anniversay in Bristow, Okla., and, said Gene, most days "We sit here and look at each other" . . . . . Intelligence officials in Mongolia staged a realistic practice rescue of a terrorist-captured airliner, thus scaring the bejeezus out of passengers, who had not been informed. (Buried lede: Mongolia has a "Central Intelligence Agency") . . . . .Fairfax County, Va., citing health concerns, is sticking to its ban on homemade food gifts for the homeless (unless they were cooked in a county-licensed kitchen), despite the fact, of course, that with fewer such gifts, the homeless will be doing more Dumpster-diving this holiday season . . . . . It took 10 Bethlehem, Pa., cops to subdue the wild accused murderer Sonny Thomas (who would go on to be convicted of that night’s bloody, grotesque murder), and now Thomas has prevailed in his lawsuit against five of the cops for using excessive force (but on the other hand, he had asked for $35m in damages, and the jury gave him $34,999,999.00 short of that) . . . . . Juan Lopez was beaten, and then he was shot, at the Double Trouble Stable . . . . . Might be a translation problem: The Council for Animal Ethics in Denmark reportedly said the only real need to prohibit human-animal sex would be if it was for sex shows or porn . . . . . This is sooo last-year: The Hilarion Gimeno school in Zaragoza, Spain, canceled Christmas celebrations this year for fear of upsetting Muslims.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Virginia state gov’t needs IQ tests for its high officials: The new head of the state Dept. of Transportation, recently hired from Idaho, dropped by a DMV for a driver’s license, including waiting in line, which was a nice touch to see how his troops treat people. The troops passed. DOT Commissioner Dave Ekern, though, somehow got the idea that he could just walk into a Virginia driver’s license station and get a license without proving he lives in Virginia. D'Oh! So the troops sent him home for documentation. He returned with something, stood in line again cheerfully, and got his license.

140,000 Americans are slogging through hell right now to make the USA safe for this: For the holiday season, you can buy doghouses (models for $10k, $20k, as much as $100k) from Doggie Mansions of West Palm Beach, in styles such as Key West cottage and New England colonial, with Spanish-tile roofs, flat-screen TV’s, air-conditioning, and, of course, beyond the basics, you can buy some frivolous add-ons!

On closer inspection, Yr Editor misread the story [Backstage, 11-23-2006] of the chickens that came out of the compost in a zombie-like state at the California farm. They were actual "spent hens" that managed to survive the gas chamber; they were not from eggs laid around the time of death by so-called spent hens that were in reality unspent.

Below The Fold
An IHOP manager in Quincy, Mass., got the bright idea (to stop "dine and dash"’ers) to require all customers to drop off their driver’s licenses when they come in (until the corporate office found out and went nuts) . . . . . Well, sure: A driver accidentally smashed into an optical store, where she had an appointment for eyeglasses . . . . . The family of Singapore-executed drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van marked the first anniversary of his death by releasing balloons in Melbourne, Australia . . . . . That dead-dead-deadly poison that killed ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko? Buy it on the Internet (one "trace," $69) . . . . . The Texas Ethics Commission (OK, grab hold of yourself, now; there really is one) issued a ruling Monday saying state officials need to declare money gifts of any amount—but only with by the single words "currency" or "check" . . . . . A window-washer in downtown Nashville fell asleep on the job 15 stories up and was rescued by firefighters, who thought he was hanging there, dead . . . . . Crisis in a South Boston housing project: A Haitian family is being evicted after allegedly refusing to engage in apartment-hygiene and thus requiring 10 state-paid visits in a yr to kill cockroaches and bedbugs . . . . . Two Decatur, Ill., guys carjacked a Nissan and then, in some shallow-seated display of teenage angst, drove by the crime scene (as the victims talked to cops) and honked the horn; they were arrested after a chase. [CORRECTED: It wasn't a carjacking but just a street robbery from perps' own car.]

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Come on, tell me the truth: When Stephen King buys a machine so that three small towns in Maine can scan the irises of all the school kids, you’re at least a little bit worried, aren’t you? C’mon. Anyway, for now, the sheriff in Eddington (pop. 700) is grateful for the help (though it may be that he’s just imagining who’ll play him in the movie).

Wisconsin judge Michael Lucci wrote two weeks ago [Backstage, 11-16-2006] that he was thinking over what to do about the guy who had sex with the dead deer but whose lawyer had challenged the anti-bestiality statute as applicable only to live animals. Answer: Guilty (because of the venerable legal doctrine of "common sense," which is honored only sporadically in the U.S.). Protection of animals is but one purpose of the statute, he wrote; maintaining public decency is more important, so dead equals alive equals whatever.

Below The Fold
It’s not just with headphones anymore: A 40-yr-old, bare-eared man chose "railroad tracks" as his jogging path in Kingston, Ontario, and was smacked hard by a train . . . . . Yikes! The Food and Drug Administration is apparently tired of haggling with the Red Cross over its sloppy record-keeping, storage procedures, etc., for its blood supplies and fined it $5.7m . . . . . A Jackson, Wis., man has done all the required Guinness Book paperwork to get recognition for his one, 4.1-inch-long arm hair that he’s apparently quite proud of . . . . . People with worse sex lives than you: Bryan Westerlund, 18, Brooklyn Park, Minn., hovered outside of bedroom windows begging women for sex and would even thrust his hand through the screen . . . . . A driver in Yokkaichi, Japan, apparently thought he owned the printout of his DUI test, that it was OK for him to just eat it, and he expressed surprise that police thought it a crime . . . . . Last words: "You can’t shoot me, I’m invisible" (uttered by the late Richard Johnson, after James Quick got fed up with Johnson’s reneging on a $20 bet on the Clemson-South Carolina football game Saturday).

Monday, November 27, 2006

The F state’s kinder, gentler version of Michael Richards: The city manager of a place called Golden Beach (pop. 919 rich people, up a ways from North Miami Beach) said she never meant any harm when she referred to her mature assistant (a black woman) as "mammy," but then, apparently mortified that she’d upset the woman, tried to make things right by assuring her just how much she’s always loved "Aunt Jemima." (Seriously.)

Another TKMB ("the kid’s mother’s boyfriend): Derrick Henry (in Prince Edward Island) was minding his girlfriend’s 10-month-old when she got too warm. He tried a cool cloth, but she stayed warm, and taking her outside in the cold didn’t do the trick, either, so he stuck her in the freezer (just for a minute or so, he said).

Can’t Possibly Be True: CNN Money has found 10 toys pitched for kids who, if they don’t think they’re better than you are now, soon will, ranging in price from $3k up to a fancy backyard playset from for $97.5k. (Don’t miss the Victorian mansion playhouse [FAO Schwarz, $22k], the Pirate-themed clubhouse [Costco, $18.5k], the Lego Batman [FAO Schwarz, $27k], the gasoline-powered 2-seater [Mobileation Stores, $32.3k], and the Fantasy Cinderella-style Coach [Poshtots, $47k].)

Below The Fold
Guy goes to the trouble of flying 5,500 miles to get laid (and now faces a max of 145 yrs, in that she was not a cop but an actual Internet chat room 15-yr-old) . . . . . A rock music festival in Pyongyang, according to the North Korean gov’t . . . . . People get angry with loud, inconveniencing construction crews from time to time and want to fight ‘em, but here’s a guy who showed up with actual boxing gloves . . . . . The United Nations is sick of its affiliated charities selling sponsorships to celebrities and companies like Gucci, just so rich people can sleep better at night . . . . . How embarrassing: A 19-yr-old man with a rap sheet, on trial for robbery, being defended by his lawyer-mother, stands up to leave the courtroom when a bag of dope falls out of his pocket . . . . . Burglars have probably made their getaways before in taxicabs, but probably not burglars carrying away a "large safe" . . . . . Some Australians are spending more money on gourmet pet food than they spend on gourmet human food . . . . . China culture frowns on smiling (in favor of the serious look), but a crash course is underway to upgrade hospitality for the 2008 Olympics, meaning seminars and group sessions on how to smile . . . . . Sweden’s about to release two men altogether from murder charges, even though both were with the victim when she died, because each blames the other, meaning neither can be guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt" . . . . . A jail in Petersborough, England, has big plans for the holidays, with parties for the inmates and even cash gifts (when all that the jailers get for the holidays is a small box of chocolates) . . . . . Headline from Australia: "Rain Frustrates Bushfire Fight."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Problem Solved: Muslim clerics who frightened U.S. Airways passengers in Minneapolis on Monday, and were removed, called for all Muslims to boycott U.S. Airways. If the boycott succeeds, U.S. Airways will thus be the go-to airline for all antsy non-Muslims. There couldn’t be more than 200 million of those in the U.S.

Never underestimate the commercial power of an authority figure telling people it’s OK to have fun: (1) Metropolitan State College (Denver, Colo.) has inaugurated a for-credit course on beer, on the brew’s art, science, and nuances. There’s a waiting list. (2) Former Tennessee preacher (and now nat’l seminar conductor on hot Christian sex) Joe Beam says masturbation (manual or mechanical) is nowhere dissed in the Bible so go for it.

Night of the Living Chicks: When a California farm euthanizes "spent hens" and makes compost, it turns out that some of the hens weren’t quite spent (though they are dead). A few residual eggs get dropped, resulting in chickens that wander out of the compost, severely dazed and confused, and are quite a sight, says the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa.

Upon advice of counsel, the brains behind the attempt to build a 5-ft-long marijuana joint in Amsterdam bailed out. The lawyers said just because 100 contributors were bringing not more than the legally-permitted 5g each, cops and judges weren’t likely to look at it that way.

Maybe you had to be there: Texas lawyer Robert M. Phillips, explaining why his teacher’s aide-client might be innocent despite her statement that she let the student kiss her breasts: "[I]n fact what happened is [merely that my client] made a statement. It may be an admission, or may be just their version of what happened. That’s not a confession."

As previously noted, Backstage will not be published tomorrow and probably will not be published Saturday (but if I hear of something really stupid, I’ll let you know). Back on schedule Monday.

Below The Fold
According to reports, young Barbara Bush’s crack Secret Service detail failed to notice that someone was stealing her purse and cell phone from a tourist restaurant in Buenos Aires . . . . . A car with bad brakes hit a house in Rochester, N.Y., despite the driver’s efforts to stop the car Flintstones-style . . . . . Smoothing the ice at the city skating rink in Boise builds up an appetite, so the two workers (now, ex-workers) drove their Zambonis down to the Burger King, to the drive-thru window . . . . . After hearing from PETA, the upscale U.S. menswear seller Jack Spade said it would stop selling its $40 frog-dissection kit (yep—m-e-n-s-w-e-a-r).