Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cultural Diversity (from Reuters): "Eighty-three-year-old Maya Indian Cenorio Colli gazed lovingly at his wife’s long brown hair and recalled how carefully she combed it when she was still alive. Then he went back to cleaning her skull and every bone she left behind." It’s an annual tradition in Mexico’s Yucatan.

An Endless Loop (well, not endless, but—): Ohio man pays child support to the mother; mother dies; child moves in with him; he still has to keep paying into a drop-box until he can get a court order; court backed up at least 6 months.

Not Their Fault: Couple of teenagers trespassed into a fenced-off rail yard and climbed on one of the electric railroad cars to check out the view, then got badly burned by the traintop hot wires (12,500 volts). One guy, 75 percent of body burned; the other, 18. Whose fault? That would be Amtrak’s and Norfolk Southern’s, according to the jury in Philadelphia, which awarded $11.7m compensatory and $12.5m punitive.

It happened a week ago, but there’s now a campaign ad surfacing on it so Yr Editor feels free to use it: Wyoming’s Republican U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin approached way-minor 3rd party challenger, Libertarian Tom Rankin (who is confined to a wheelchair, with multiple sclerosis), after their October 22 debate, angry that he had mentioned the dreaded "A" word during the show [er, Abramoff]. "If you weren’t sitting in that chair," said Wyoming’s alpha dog-ette (who occupies the House seat once warmed by Richard Cheney), "I’d slap you across the face."

Below The Fold
A convenience store robbery in Leesburg, Fla., got fatal when the perp shot the owner, but the bullet passed through his shoulder and killed the clerk, whose name (seriously) was Apu . . . . . For the second time in 8 months, Victoria (the Doberman pinscher) jumped up on the stove and started an apartment fire (this time, $100k worth) . . . . . Thinning the Herd: First, he somehow managed to shoot himself in the leg during a liquor store robbery, and second, he failed to recognize that he had hit an actual femoral artery.

Monday, October 30, 2006

That “Promise Keepers”/men-crying thing is so yesterday: “At the daylong GodMen event [Nashville’s Tennessean reports], men will be able to cuss, smoke cigars, watch videos of football pileups and car crashes, listen to specially composed Christian rock songs such as ‘Testosterone High,’ and attend workshops on how to fight pornography addiction.”

Inside NOTW
Another candidate for exception to No Longer Weird: A rural school board race in Alaska ended in a tie, so they flipped a coin. Ho-hum. But the catch is that, when they flipped it, one of the candidates was already dead, and she won the toss.
Yr Editor is not a Target shareholder, but I’ll include this additional information about the padded-bras story (for girls as young as 6) in the current NOTW 977: Target in Australia, which sells the “bra-lettes,” is completely independent of Target in the U.S. (although in the Internet age, you’d think they’d have any confusion worked out by now).

Below The Fold
If Chicago police have, indeed infiltrated local anti-war groups, they’d better brush up on their techniques because they just sent “hundreds” of officers to secure a canceled street demonstration . . . . . World record for free time: Oregon authorities found a man’s 51 three-ring binders of porn, plus 617 videotapes’ worth and about 950 CDs-DVDs’ worth . . . . . A man bungee-falling out of a tree to scare people on a Halloween hayride was victimized by a weak bungee and is no longer with us (but jeez, were they ever frightened!) . . . . . In the Washington, D.C., trial of two men accused of the heartbreaking murder of a 14-yr-old girl “snitch,” a juror had to be booted off during deliberations when she couldn’t stop proclaiming their innocence via birth-date/letters-in-name numerology . . . . . Just after NY’s Metropolitan Transit Authority decided to let trannies (and alleged trannies) use the restrooms of their choice [Backstage, 10-26-2006], women in Italy’s parliament raise hell about the same issue . . . . . Where sports aren’t unionized: A Bulgarian soccer player says he’ll obey the club’s order to get married.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

More Unintelligent Design: "Dilbert" creator Scott Adams has now become, de facto, the spokesman for spasmodic dysphonia, owing to the fact that he has just (mostly) recovered from it. It’s a chromosomal abnormality that causes vocal-chord spasms, with the main symptoms being uncontrollable voice changes (e.g., "helium voice"), except reverting to normal briefly under odd circumstances, such as right after a sneeze, or a laugh, or, seriously, while reciting poetry (according to support groups).

Editor’s Obsessions
It’s a sad, sad day in Weird Central. The Plamegate special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, allegedly made mincemeat of Yr Editor’s heroine, Prof. Elizabeth Loftus, of the Univ. of Calif. at Irvine, who is one of the world’s leading experts on the myth of "recovered memory" (e.g., when a weak-willed woman suddenly "remembers," through assisted counseling, that, yeaaaaah, all her troubles stem from being sodomized when she was 12, by, y’know, the entire Anaheim Ducks [either way—all the players on that hockey team, or all the actual ducks in the city], or by Stishnikosh rangers from Planet 4#@, or, whatever, yeah, I remember it now like it was yesterday!). Apparently Dr. Loftus took a little too much liberty with some of her research, and is guilty of spinning some professional conclusions just a little too far, and, most embarrassingly, forgot (as in, un-recovered memory) that she’d once before been grilled on the stand by Fitzgerald (which is an experience that no witness should ever forget!). After the near-debacle, the judge in the Scooter Libby case may rule her out as an "expert witness" on the ease with which Libby could have forgotten the sequence in which reporters talked to him about Valerie Plame’s CIA identity.

Below The Fold
The Only Way Out for a 36-yr-old Shamokin, Pa., woman: suicide by grabbing five poisonous snakes (5!) and letting them work their magic . . . . . Introducing the Dickhead Theory of Judaism (i.e., its entire head has to show, or the boy's bogus) . . . . . An explosion at a grain factory in England left the whole town, almost, covered in white powder (and, if you try to wash it off, you create porridge!) . . . . . What happens (in Manila) when you don’t have a home but there are plenty of roomy gravesites? . . . . . Wrong place, wrong time: A motorist in Riverside, Calif., is fatally hit on the head by a flying SUV battery (from a nearby collision) . . . . . Update: The Burleson, Tex., school district, which had hired a Rambo-like guy to teach elementary-schoolers to attack any armed intruders in their school [Backstage, 10-16-2006], said Our Bad.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Equality and Justice for All: So F State middle-school teacher Debra LaFave bonks one student a couple of times, gets 15-minutes-plus of fame, and avoids lockup. Now comes South Bend, Ind., middle-school teacher’s aide Schmeca White, 28, who, as far as we know, bonks no one but does take her clothes off in class and feel herself up, and not only has she been in lockup since her arrest 18 months ago, but she gets sentenced to over 7 more yrs, and Judge Roland Chamblee almost apologized for not giving her more, citing her previously clean record.

Recurring Theme (Another Ambitious Eruv): Yr Editor gets in trouble with indignant Jews by calling it weird that Orthodox synagogues expand their congregants’ freedom during the Sabbath by laying miles of string around town and calling the enclosure "home," or something akin to the place where everyone’s supposed to be resting for the day [NOTW 971, 9-17-2006]. Doing that allows observants the convenience of believing that they’re conforming to the Torah even though they’re sauntering all over the place, far from "home." Now, the Pacific Jewish Center in Venice, Calif., wants to lay string around much of Santa Monica, Venice, and Marina del Rey, to allow those cities’ Jews to take beach and boardwalk strolls on the Sabbath, but the state Coastal Commission is complaining that it would endanger a rare bird nesting area. Oy.

The first trial in that super-weird wave of successful pervert phone calls starting 7 yrs ago is live this week in, ahem, Shepherdsville, Ky. (schemes in which someone calls the manager of a fast food restaurant, posing as a cop or other authority, and convinces him or her to sexually grill and/or fondle employees, who are "suspected" by the "cop," who needs "evidence" that the manager can ascertain from the encounter). The defendant, David Stewart, of the F State, is charged in only one of the episodes, but authorities in at least six other states may want a shot at him after this trial is over. The manager of a McD’s testified this week in Shepherdsville that he carried out Stewart’s bizarre, three-hour surrogate interrogation of an 18-yr-old female because the caller was a "smooth talker" and "had control of my mind." Part of the manager’s CSI-type assistance was to make the woman run in place naked and then masturbate so that the manager could sniff her moisture, to be able to tell the caller what kind of illegal drugs she had been taking. [The previous NOTW stories are at [NOTW 811, 8-24-2003] [NOTW 731, 2-10-2002] [NOTW 667, 11-17-2000] [NOTW 570, 1-8-1999], including the mention of one suspect who was not involved in the Kentucky call.] [Wednesday's story] [Thursday's story] [Today's story]

Below The Fold
Residents of Liverpool are warned that Akinwale Arobieke has been released and is roaming the streets, tempted to feel your muscles or ask you do squats . . . . . For the second time in 10 days, a man on Florida’s east coast drowns underneath his lawnmower . . . . . New Scientist found a legitimate way this week to talk about people who crave sex in real time even though they’re asleep . . . . . He’s a doper; he’s not supposed to have a good memory: An employee hides his baggie in a bank deposit sack but later routinely stuffs the night’s receipts in the sack and drops it in the bank’s deposit box . . . . . An unintended fire at a Salt Lake City crematorium, caused by "fluids" leaking from a 600-lb. crematee that developed into, said a fire official, "[s]ort of like a grease fire."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

One State Avoids Turmoil; Another Doesn’t: The New Jersey Supreme Court passed the buck (for six more months) to the legislature yesterday on the gay-marriage thing, but NY’s more progressive Metropolitan Transit Authority (in setting a Human Rights Commission complaint by a transgender-rights group) agreed to open its rest rooms to TG’s based on what they’ve chosen to be. That will probably be less of a problem to Betty-cum-Bobs in the men’s rooms than it will be when the weird-Hermans realize that a dress and pumps get them an all-access pass to listen to the ladies pee.

The Scottish judge who said she thought all Japanese males look alike [Backstage, 10-24-2006] actually said all Chinese males look alike (which is convenient, since the defendant was Chinese). (I won’t dig too deeply into my subconscious to explore my error, though, because when I re-checked the story in my pile, I saw that the two stories on top of it and the one underneath it were all from Japan, which is as far as I want to explore it.) The incident is especially embarrassing to Yr Editor, in that the defendant’s name, Mr. Hui Yu, suggests the old Garry Shandling joke. (On a Chinatown street, Shandling shouts at a guy, "Hey, you!" and half the people turn around and look at him, and one guy yells back, "Who, me?" and the other half turn around.)

Below The Fold
Can’t possibly be true (can it?): "95 small zip lock bags [of heroin were] concealed in Thomas J. ‘Rambo’ Galvin, Jr.’s anus," according to the Harwich (Mass.) Oracle . . . . . After a high-speed driver was finally stopped by police in Perth, Australia, he had to be hospitalized because, for some reason, he desired to headbutt the pavement repeatedly, bloodying his face . . . . . Drug agents raid a seedy trailer in rural New Mexico and confiscate a meth lab—oh, and also classified documents from Los Alamos . . . . . A shopkeeper in Mahopac, N.Y., got angry at a guy parking in front of his store, and fortunately for the shopkeeper, there just happened to be an idle forklift nearby . . . . . Owwwwwww! Doctors at Western Galilee Hospital in Israel removed a grapefruit-sized, calcified stone from a woman’s bladder . . . . . Bad enough that a drug-addicted mother contaminated her baby in the womb, but then, when the six-month-old stopped breathing and mom called 000 [911] for CPR instructions, she paused right in the middle of the call for a smoke . . . . . In Sonoma County, Calif., a motorist was found dead in his car—said car being found suspended in a tree . . . . . A 14-yr-old girl, who was at first so eager to meet a "Washington" man after Internet chatting that she bought a plane ticket and traveled on her own, ratted him out when she got scared at being all alone at a D.C. airport—while he was waiting for her in Seattle . . . . . Ronald Kuch, 44, of Saginaw, Mich., was arrested after being spotted having sex with a dead dog (which belonged to his ex-girlfriend) [Ed.: Actually, I don’t know about the "ex-" part; I’m just speculating] . . . . . Some discharge or other into China’s Red River near the city of Lanzhou turned the water all yellow . . or, no, wait, the discharge turned the Yellow River red, yeah, that’s it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More on Mary Carey [Backstage, 10-24-2006]: Her mother jumped off the building because she’s schizophrenic, and she was critically injured, but the dutiful daughter said she’s prepared to move to the F State permanently to care for her (if she survives) and would then start looking at Florida politics.
A long-ago News of the Weird favorite, Professor Jukka Ammondt [NOTW 406, 11-17-1995], is in the news again as his beloved Finland ascends to the presidency of the European Union (and stories circulate about the country’s crazies). Ammondt professionally sings Elvis Presley songs, er, rewritten Elvis Presley songs, um, rewritten into Latin. Finland actually has a Latin-language TV newscast.

Below The Fold
On the heels of that padded "bra-lette" for voluptuous 6-yr-olds [Backstage, 9-11-2006] comes Britain’s Tesco, selling a toy pole-dancing kit (with instructive DVD) for ages 4-6 . . . . . With its arsenal of "smart bombs" tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan, if the U.S. had to open another war front, said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, we "would end up using more dumb bombs" . . . . . The fastest-growing cosmetic surgery choice: eyelash transplants, for the seriously, seriously insecure . . . . . Alert Kobayashi and the Black Widow: Volodymr Stryhaniv won the pork-fat-eating contest in Lutsk, Ukraine (and he is, as they are, slim) . . . . . Montana high school principal Eric Messerli is back at work after serving a 6-day suspension for giving a student a wedgie (playfully, trying to be one of the guys [which is his problem, said the school board]).

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

[NOTE: The ridiculous Blogspot.com had server trouble for about three hours today. Here's my post, but I don't have time to put in the links yet. Maybe later this afternoon. UPDATE: Didn't post them until about 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 25.]

We’re running out of end-games in Great Art, and this one comes pretty close to the precipice: At the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Wales, the art is a completely bare space. What’s supposed to happen is that patrons walk in and use the bareness to imagine another installation they’ve seen “so that [the two installations] exist at two locations simultaneously, both here and there,” according to artist.

One story takes down two different nations at the same time: A Paris psychologist said he thinks about a dozen Japanese tourists a year have to seek treatment because they’re disillusioned to arrive and find the French so boorish.

Scottish Justice: First, a Japanese driver in Scotland beat a traffic ticket on “mistaken identity” because, well, all Japanese men look alike (the judge said). And then the Daily Record revealed that two prisons will give 300 inmates Christmas leave, including a double baby-killer, two knife murderers, a terrorist, a serial armed robber, a “heroin baron,” and a racist firebomber.

Ms. Ginnah Muhammad ran into the upper limit of tolerance for face-swaddling when a judge in Hamtramck, Mich., said she’d have to unveil when she testified because he needed to see her face to evaluate her credibility. No face, no case. She said no, so the $2,750 rental-car bill, which she had challenged, sticks.

Hey, this is a pre-Update. The next News of the Weird column appearing in print newspapers beginning this coming weekend will contain an item no longer valid (but which it is too expensive to re-do for those clients): Mary Carey, the ex-porn star running for governor of California again, dropped out yesterday to care for her mother, who is recovering from a recent fall. (Actually, that’s putting it kindly; she actually jumped off a building. More details as they emerge.) (I’ll fix the story for the online editions.)
The Oklahoma school superintendent candidate who wants to fortify pupils’ desks with used textbooks to stop bullets [Backstage, 10-19-2006] has now proposed that maybe new textbooks should come with Kevlar covers. (Seriously)

That’s Messed Up
While you were futzing over cutting coupons out of the Sunday papers the last few yrs, these investors were raking it in on state-pressured sales of utility companies that supposedly would introduce greater competition into the industry (and lower the rates for customers) (but it hasn’t worked out that way) (as it often doesn’t) (but that doesn’t stop savvy inside players from getting enormously rich rich rich along the way). From yesterday’s NY Times:

Four big investment firms bought a group of Texas power plants in 2004 for $900 million and sold them the next year for $5.8 billion.
Sempra Energy, parent of the utility in San Diego, bought nine Texas power plants with two partners in 2004 for $430 million, selling two of them less than two years later for more than $1.6 billion.
Goldman Sachs and its partners bought power plants in upstate New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio starting in 1998 and sold them in 2001 at a profit of more than $1 billion.

Below The Fold
President Bongo of Gabon said he feels fine and will probably run again when his term expires in 2012 (though maybe I should stop noticing things like “President Bongo”) . . . . . The Libertarian candidate for Alabama governor flashes her headlights to get voters to look at her platform . . . . . In southeast England, a serial train defecator (30 trains in three months) . . . . . A tough sell for academics: PETA banks on studies showing that fish are really smart and obviously therefore feel “terror” and “suffering” . . . . . The female mayor of Almere, Netherlands, said it would be a good idea, when the gov’t deploys troops overseas as peacekeepers, to send along some “professional gals” to keep ‘em company . . . . . Beer is dangerous, whether you (1) throw a keg onto a bonfire or (2) have a beer truck fall onto your car, dumping thousands of cans on you . . . . . The Friday night Ohio State Univ. elevator crash (that killed a student who had tried to climb out) might have been related to the fact that 24 people were squeezed into the 6x6 car . . . . . At least six high schools in Virginia Beach serve lunch at 9:05 a.m.

Monday, October 23, 2006

According to one o’ those colorful USA Today graphs, 47% of Iraqis in a Gallup Poll believe that Iraq is headed "in the wrong direction," which of course is much less than the percentage of Americans in poll after poll who believe that America is headed in the wrong direction. [See, e.g, this one, at 62 percent]

In LaCrosse, Wis., they call it a public-policy problem, but Yr Editor calls it an instructive cluster: Eight college students in nine yrs have drowned in local rivers after drinking too much. [Ed.: Drunk-driving is a societal problem; drunk-diving is a personal failure.] (And speaking of LaCrosse, a guy turned up drunk two weeks ago at Oktoberfest with a nearly-impossible .44 reading, which, when considered with the nearly-impossible .425 reading reported here [NOTW 975, 10-15-2006], of the guy in Madison fighting with the gas-station pump, makes me think Wisconsin’s technology is a little out of kilter. You can dive into the river at 2 a.m. with a .15 or a .20; you don’t need .425 and .44. That sounds like bad measuring. Either that, or Wisconsin’s proud of its high readings and has figured how to jigger them up.)

School wusses out, big time: That would be Castro Valley (Calif.) High, just south of Oakland, where a local judge and a couple of other parents, angry that their daughters aren’t getting enough love from the girls’ varsity basketball coach, have arm-twisted the school board into forming a committee to pick the team this year. This, despite the sterling record and high praise by others for the coach.

Yet Another Oh-So-Clever Scheme in Which People Smarter Than You Figured Out How to Manipulate Complicated Legalisms to Make Tons of Money While You’re Clipping Sunday Coupons to Save a Few Bucks: A 1998 federal appeals court decision, extended to its max by clever lawyers, so far protects tax-savings schemes that lawyers and accountants dream up—by qualifying them for U.S. patents. Some of these schemes might ultimately even be illegal (but they’re so complicated that it’ll take a while to judge them), and all of them were uncontemplated by anyone in Congress (who wouldn’t have time to think them through), thus leaving the public policy creation exclusively up to the only people in the world with the time to work on them, i.e., smart people who get paid several hundred dollars every hour to think about them. [NY Times $]

"Muslims cannot drink alcohol; they have to avoid it. But when you use codeine and kratom [a native leaf] and mix it with Coke and get ‘drunk,’ this is not a sin." It’s a great quote, but Yr Editor doesn’t like the journalism so much. You can check the story yourself and see if you agree. The quote comes from a Bangkok prison, attributed to something that political scientist Dr. Srisompob Jitpiromsri was told, and a stringer for Australia’s The Age reported it.

Despite Yr Editor’s assertion in the current News of the Weird column [NOTW 976, 10-22-2006], Kinshasa lies in Congo, not Kenya.

There’s nothing new in this piece that Yr Editor didn’t report earlier [NOTW 796, 5-11-2003; NOTW 947, 4-2-2006], but if you missed the one about the Brit who gave his apartment a total makeover to look like the inside of the Starship Enterprise, here’s The Sun’s Saturday story.
More Golf Mania [Backstage, 10-17-2006, 10-16-2006] (from America!): James Finegan 76, plays 250 rounds a yr at the Philadelphia Country Club, plus 50-60 rounds a yr elsewhere, and would even play more except for the snow, but clear-weather temperatures in the 20's don’t faze him. And, and in his "off-duty" time, he writes books on golf. [Wall Street Journal $]

Below The Fold
A teacher’s penalty for sex with an underage student: exile to Canada for three yrs (which might be illegal even though he agreed to it) . . . . . This guy was allegedly walking his turtle down the street (as, on a leash tied to the shell) (Seriously) (except it’s from Japan) . . . . . The good news is that herbal erection pills are effective; the bad news is that "effective" means doping up greyhounds to fix races . . . . . Another problem with Mexico: Its judges and prosecutors are so respectful of the Catholic Church that it has become a safe haven for U.S. pedophile priests . . . . . Yet another animal shelter (this one: Washington, D.C.) that’s a damned sight more impressive than any human shelter . . . . . Rodeo-goers are now treated to an average of 3 in 10 bull riders wearing hockey helmets instead of cowboy hats . . . . . A long-time county election judge in St. Louis was caught voting twice (by absentee ballot) on Oct. 9, but pals said he’s just old, and he must’ve forgotten that he had already voted.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Turkmenistan’s super-egomaniac President (-for-life) Niyazov [NOTW 923, 10-16-2005] has just debuted his poetry in plays in five new theaters, but for the first time, he’s a reluctant super-egomaniac: "Please do not hail me quite so often. It is hard for me to listen to applause meant only for me."
The what-me-worry George Russell Weller, 89, famous for turning the humble 1992 Buick LeSabre into DeathCar 2003 at the Santa Monica, Calif., farmers' market [NOTW 882, 1-2-2005], was convicted on all counts and awaits sentencing (unless he goes off to the Great Farmers' Market first).
And here comes, possibly, the first person in Washington state to be charged under its brand-new bestiality law (passed after that notorious 2005 Enumclaw, Wash., case [NOTW 916, 9-28-2005] in which a horse literally ripped a guy a new one). This fella, in Spanaway, Wash., was caught by his wife, hooked up with the family’s 4-year-old pit bull terrier, and she has the photos. (Now, an even grosser story came out this week from Superior, Wis.: Bryan James Hathaway, 20, who had just been released from the joint for an animal-cruelty conviction, was caught having sex with a deer carcass. He said, y’know, he saw the deer in the ditch and got aroused. That happens.)

Below The Fold
A Riverside, Calif., judge lets a female flasher go free because the criminal statute reads only "exposes his person" [emphasis supplied] . . . . . Ronald Dotson of Ferndale, Mich., is a serial mannequin stalker/stealer who has somehow escaped Yr Editor’s attention over the years, but he’s back behind bars after being unable to lay off that "woman" in the French maid’s uniform . . . . . A Suffolk, Va., woman had homicide charges dropped because state abortion law apparently gives her the right to (as she did) shoot herself in the belly to avoid motherhood . . . . . Official Boy Scout policy among Los Angeles-area troops is, Don’t illegally download music or video, and Scouts who learn that get actual merit patches . . . . . The man who baptized the late serial killer/cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer is pretty sure Dahmer is wearing wings right now, basking in the House of the Lord.

Friday, October 20, 2006

[NOTE: Once again, blogspot.com was down until past my normal posting time of 12 noon, Eastern. This is just to let you know that Yr Editor was, as always, working for you.]

It turns out that Wesley Snipes is now in Namibia working on a movie, rather than being seriously on the lam from the federal indictment unsealed on Tuesday in Tampa charging him and two others with tax-fraud conspiracy (and Snipes personally with failure to file for 6 years). Snipes is the gov’t’s highest-profile "Section 861" schmuck yet, and the word on the street is that IRS might finally, at last, be getting tough with these guys who are certain that the Code is interpretable as requiring only that foreign income is taxable (thus conveniently ignoring several other sections making it clear that all income from any source is taxable unless specifically excluded). Usually, even dumb people who are high-profile have an array of advisers who seriously want nothing bad to happen to their meal tick–, er, clients. Snipes apparently lacks these advisers, so when smooth-talking tax lingo-ists told him he could save $11.3M in taxes, he got all moist. He’s facing 16 yrs and should surely see prison time when this is all over. Whether they’ll send Tommy Lee Jones and Joe Pantoliano to Namibia to bring his ass back is another question. [In case you run into any of these hucksters, here is IRS’s handy, comprehensive guide to frivolous tax arguments.]

Philadelphia street-corner newsstand operator Muhammad Shaukat (a native of India) said he’d defy city license inspectors who, responding to complaints, want him not to display Penthouse and competitors so much in-the-faces of passersby. "Everybody sells those magazines," he said. He also posted a sign warning what would happen if the inspectors came by again: "I gone a [f] his mother, sister, wife or her . . . who complain my newsstand. Come front of me." On Wednesday, the City Council promptly banned newsstands on Shaukat’s corner.

And yet another poor job of journalism, in which Yr Editor is left without a clear explanation: All the Agence France-Presse story says is that the only clothing shop in a small New Zealand town stopped selling women’s underwear but that an Anglican minister in a nearby town plans to start making deliveries. End of story.

Below The Fold
An Australian inmate lost 30 lbs. on a laxative diet, for the sole purpose of getting small enough to squeeze through an escape hole . . . . . And in Melbourne, an airline baggage handler was revealed to have an extensive collection of, er, women’s hair, in 87 plastic bags (80 labeled, by supplier) . . . . . Trustees of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Tex., voted (36-1) a campuswide ban on speaking in tongues . . . . . A Korean-American showed up at her naturalization ceremony in Brooklyn on Wednesday with a gun in her possession, but then she proved just how American she had become by trying to sell authorities on the excuse that, well, someone must’ve dropped it in her purse . . . . . Mirza Tahir Hussain, a dual-Brit-Pakistani citizen, had his execution in Islamabad postponed until December 31; he was convicted of murder in 1989, had the verdict overturned in court, but then was sentenced to die, anyway, under Islamic law . . . . . A NYC pedestrian was killed by a drunk driver wearing nothing but a seat belt.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It’s the Political Season: A candidate for Oklahoma superintendent of education says the key to protecting kids from armed intruders is thick textbooks under every desk, to stop bullets (though in a demonstration, it took two calculus texts to stop an AK-47 slug) . . . . . A candidate for a County Board seat in Aurora, Ill., took The Only Way Out after he was charged with molesting two teenage girls . . . . . North Carolina congressional candidate Vernon Robinson is also sex-obsessed, but with his opponent, incumbent U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, who, Robinson says, is suspiciously "childless" and has voted for Nat’l Institutes of Health grants that somewhere down the line went to study things like the masturbation habits of old men . . . . . State Rep. Bill Sali, running for one of Idaho’s two U.S. House seats, said in 2002 that he suffered from "brain fade" due to a car wreck but that "[m]uch of the time in the Legislature, critical-thinking skills are not necessarily needed." [from Slate.com; scroll down; better links in story]

From LiveScience.com: "A sluggish, sick human is easy to spot. But it’s harder to tell when a shrimp is under the weather. So one scientist put the little crustaceans on a tiny treadmill to examine how diseases impact their performance." Said the scientist in question (David Scholnick of Pacific University): "As far as I know this is the first time that shrimp have been exercised on a treadmill . . .."

A tongue-piercing gone bad led to trigeminal neuralgia, sometimes called "suicide disease" because of the excruciating, stabbing pain lasting 10-30 seconds, 20-30 times a day, and has been known to drop people to their knees. And in Boston, a mom was found guilty for ignoring her 13-yr-old daughter’s life-threatening infection caused by a navel-piercing.

The three-stoogiest moment of the week so far was in Ankara, when the driver for Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan rushed him to the hospital, unconscious from low blood sugar, but then accidentally locked him inside the fortress-like sedan outside the ER, requiring a nearby construction worker with a sledgehammer to come break the window.

The wussification of the world continues (but, thankfully, two of these are from the UK): One of Britain’s top employment-recruiting agencies ordered 22 words banned from its ads as potentially offensive to older workers, including vibrant, dynamic, ambitious, energetic, quick-learner, self-starter, and high-flyer [slow-load page] . . . . . The chief of Britain’s parenting organization Family Links suggested parents never use the word "naughty" for kids because it hurts their self-confidence . . . . . An elementary school in Attleboro, Mass., made the news for its ban on games of tag (though the ban has been in effect for a while and other schools in the district still permit it).

Below The Fold
This has probably never happened before in the history of the world, but on the Intracoastal waterway in Broward County, Fla., a stingray . . stabbed a man in the chest! . . . . . A man denied trying to kill his wife (by ramming his gloved hand down her latex-allergic throat), presenting as proof their written S&M contract: "In section four of the contract, it says the master does not have a right to kill the slave" [emphasis added] . . . . . Women’s pro football player (and Connecticut corrections officer) Corynthia Simpson had 10 tackles in a game in June, all the more impressive because she’s now charged with being on paid disability at the time, for work injuries.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"I’m offended!" What has become, increasingly, the world’s signature cry for help was on display twice yesterday: The head Hell’s Angel in Vancouver complained that he’s been treated rudely ever since the Canadian gov’t passed anti-gang legislation. Why, once he was in a restaurant, and a couple asked to be moved to another table because they didn’t want to sit close to him! And in St. Petersburg, Russia, Agasi Vartanyan ended his 50-day fast, which he said was a world record, but felt the O word because only local media covered it. (It was not reported whether the "local media" felt the O word at being marginalized like that.)

Once again, Yr Editor is stymied and needs to hold off on something, pending more information: Hal Winter, 40, a lawyer who lives in Miami Beach, got trapped in ductwork (which he apparently entered through the roof) at the local upscale Shore Club. He was wearing a swim suit. He was charged with trespassing. End of Miami Herald story.

It’s billed as Britain’s first-ever case of "Internet rage." Two guys’ discussion in a Yahoo chat room ended badly, with one (using clues from their dialogue) tracking down the other at his home 70 miles away and beating on him with a pickax handle. And just so we tie the story in to the zeitgeist: They were arguing about Islam. (Seriously)

Backstage reader B.J. Herbison sounds much less mystified than Yr Editor about the counterfeit-coin caper on Los Angeles’s skid row [Backstage, 10-16-2006, Backstage 10-14-2006]:
Minting coins is more expensive than making bills, but making good-not-great copies of coins is easier than making good-not-great copies of paper money. If paper money is blurry or off-color, fakes will be recognized. Similar coins will be considered "worn" or "stained" and the problems ignored. Another way to save money in fake coins is to use base metals instead of silver or gold. Some are silver plated, others are low silver alloys, and some have no silver. There are many manufacturers of fake coins in China. Some are easy to tell as fakes; others are high quality.
And Backstage reader Amy Swindall says it’s not all that uncommon that meth users recycle the meth out of their own urine [NOTW 975, 10-15-2006]:
It's commonly referred to as "pee tweaking" and happens quite often in the southern states. I was a county prosecutor in Alabama for four years and it was unusual not to find pickle jars of urine in meth cooks' refrigerators or by the toilet. They just cook it down as usual by evaporating the liquid and then smoke the crystals. And no, they don't do anything to filter out the impurities.
Below The Fold
David Wyler, creator of the strongest cannabis ever found in the UK, was nominated for a Nobel in sci—, no, check that, he pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing . . . . . It came out this week that zillionaire casino resort developer Steve Wynn accidentally elbowed a $139m-painting on loan in his office and put a hole in it (and, in accordance with the Powell Doctrine, he now owns it) . . . . . In Little Rock, a drive-by crossbow shooting . . . . . A quack cosmetic surgeon pleaded guilty in NYC to assault (bargained down from homicide), but it was casually mentioned in the story that the victim had come to see him to have hair removed from her tongue . . . . . A Wired.com editor, researching the code on about one-third of the MySpace.com profiles, found 744 registered sex offenders, including 497 with offenses against underage victims . . . . . And jeez, a performing classical violinist from NY was arrested in Amarillo, Tex. (wearing a fake moustache), where he had gone to meet a 16-yr-old girl for sex.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

This excerpt from Snow by freshly Nobelized writer Orhan Pamuk was in the NY Times on Sunday:
He drank from a glass of tea as he read the list of sporting rules posted in big letters on the wall: No rooster touched without permission of its owner. A rooster that goes down 3 times in a row and doesn’t peck its beak will be declared a loser. Owners may take 3 minutes to treat a wounded spur and 1 minute to dress a broken claw. In the event a rooster falls down and his rival steps on his neck, the fallen rooster will be brought back to his feet and the fight will continue. In the event of electricity outage there will be a 15-minute time-out, by which time—if power is not restored—the match will be canceled.
The Asian golf mania mentioned yesterday [Backstage, 10-16-2006] is even more frenzied, in that reportedly-elitist Xiamen University in China said it will make golf part of the mandatory curriculum.
A Congressional committee staffer said it is time to look at how the gov’t can tax capital gains accumulated inside virtual online worlds (Second Life, World of Warcraft). And yep, it’s one of the first dispatches from Reuters’s Second Life bureau chief [Backstage, 10-16-2006].

Inside NOTW
In a Wisconsin tear-jerker, a dog saved its owner from a fire, then perished trying to save his buddy the cat. But Yr Editor has to assume the worst here: The only authority for this story is the traumatized owner, who’s just lost her two best friends, and since part of her account is obviously speculation, why can’t more of it be speculation? Until further notice, this woman’s just someone who can tell a mean story.

That’s Messed Up
United HealthCare’s CEO William McGuire, who (thanks to the Wall Street Journal) became the first washout over the backdating-of-stock-options scandal, figures to have a comfortable washout, perhaps (said the Journal) taking $1.1B out the door with him. A law firm’s independent investigation estimated that 80 percent of the company’s stock options that it looked at appeared to be backdated, including those of McGuire’s replacement. Yr Editor was reminded of all this today when United HealthCare, obviously needing to cut costs somewhere to fund its stock options, ended its contract with top-of-the-line Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, sending the 500 UnitedHealth Medicare cancer patients scrambling for alternatives.
OK, so much for sucking from the shareholders’ teats; it’s on to sucking the taxpayers' teats, which brings us to farmers, and, derivatively, the crop-insurance industry (according to the Washington Post’s two-parter this week, here and here). Since taxpayers sometimes complain about excessive "disaster" (loosely defined) payments to farmers, why not just use the private insurance market? OK, presto, insurers sprang up, and Congress funded the insurers and subsidized premiums, but then farm-state Senators and Congressmen said farmers really still need disaster payments, and so now there’s both, and last yr, as a matter of fact, not only did the payouts way exceed the disaster losses, but the administrative costs of the insurance program itself exceeded the disaster losses. And the juicy part for reporters is that, since many of these farmers are rugged individualists, they give good quote about how stupid the gov’t is. (But, uh, they still cash the checks.)

Below The Fold
An Italian art project: the chocolate igloo! . . . . . There’s no statute of limitations on sexual assault in Canada, so an ultra-cool teacher is about to have to answer for swingin’ with his kids in the 1970s (but it’s not a slam-dunk, given the law’s wording) . . . . . A California Assemblywoman told high school students that her governor was welcome in her bed . . . . . A job FEMA apparently can handle: painting 100,000 stove knobs red . . . . . A town council in England announced, after a 12-month, nearly-$20k investigation, that it had narrowed down to a couple of finalists just who it was who was heckling "baaaa" during a zoning presentation . . . . . His goal was to steal money from the Runza restaurant in Omaha, and he did get away from a police chase, but he had to leave behind the restaurant’s safe that he was dragging through town from the back of his car . . . . . Larceny in the F State: Bryan Osteen of the town of Mims says someone must’ve reached into his mouth while he was asleep and taken his gold teeth.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Just like with Saturday’s post [see Update, below], Yr Editor’s laying off this, too, pending some answers: Rick Magnuson, a candidate for sheriff in Aspen, Colo., is apparently proud of an art video he made, can’t see how it might hurt his election chances, and is ticked that people are trying to make something bad out of it. Its storyline is that Magnuson, for his 40th birthday, digs a hole in the Mojave Desert until he strikes water, and then cut to him about 20 yards away, with his back to the camera, masturbating into the hole. Said one resident, "Aspen is very accepting, but that’s pretty strange."

How intense are golfers? Well, they play at the Kantarat course in Bangkok even though it’s partly nestled between the runways of Don Muang airport, which until recently was a 700-flights/day place and is now still a 30-a-day place. Ah, the smell of jet fuel, the deafening roar of engines, the challenging backdrafts! And the Asian Wall Street Journal apparently had a rundown this weekend on the toddler golf schools in China, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, handling duffers at age 2 and up (though it takes until age 7 or so before they’re tournament-ready). [Wall Street Journal $] [Wall Street Journal $]

Those silver dollars in Los Angeles [Backstage, 10-14-2006] now appear to be fakes, but Yr Editor is still puzzled: Isn’t it a lot more expensive to mint a few coins than it is to counterfeit a few bills? And since the skid-row residents were selling them for $20 each, where did they come from (and how much were the counterfeiters charging for them)?

The F State
Japan’s Nat’l Police Agency is proposing a crackdown on dementia-suffering drivers (estimated 300,000 but only 192 revoked licenses and 19,000 voluntary license turn-ins). One proposal: mandatory tests at age 70, requiring the driver to draw a clock face to show a certain time, or list as many animals as possible, or, well, just what day is it. In Florida, no one will propose it because it would pit geezers against . . . their kids, who want them off the streets.

Editor’s Obsessions
I’m fresh from watching Ed Bradley blow up the Durham, N.C., prosecutor’s case against the three Duke lacrosse players last night on 60 Minutes, and here’s a tip for Backstage readers so that maybe you can pick up a little wagering coin for reading this humble space. The oh-so-obvious end to this case is this: Somehow, before the trial next year, the alleged victim will see it in her wisdom to decline to testify, and the tearful prosecutor will say he’s "forced" to drop the charges. This will keep the players’ official records clean, certainly, but otherwise, all the noxious effects will remain: (1) Prosecutor Nifong will not be called to task for his wretched behavior; (2) The alleged victim will still be regarded sympathetically instead of as an (at a minimum) exaggerator; (3) The accused players will forever be stigmatized; (4) The black community will continue to seethe; (5) No morality lessons will be learned by anyone involved. [My previous rant is here [Backstage, 9-26-2006], and the Weird Element of this story has to do with the kangarooness of Nifong’s sense of justice; Yr Editor is against kangaroo courts.] Now, you can try to wager with your buds, but if you find an Internet wagering site that will take your play, be sure to sign up with Neteller.com to handle the money ‘cause El Presidente signed the anti-Internet-wagering bill on Friday, and Neteller seems to be the only money-transfer site with the onions to keep operating. (Not that Yr Editor knows anything about this, but the pro hoops season is only 14 days away.)

Below The Fold
A school principal in Minnesota, seeing a cat fatally caught in an animal trap on the school grounds, did the humane thing: He whipped out his gun and killed the cat’s two kittens . . . . . Moving right along, in Burleson, Tex., teachers and kids take lessons in fighting back against armed intruders ("picking up anything and everything and throwing it at the head and body of the atacker and making as much noise as possible. Go toward him as fast as we can and bring them down") . . . . . Kansas state Rep. Vaughn Flora was charged with battery after scuffling with an anti-abortion protester dressed like a cockroach (protesting "unsanitary" abortion clinics) . . . . . Cliche come to life: Reuters News Service opens an actual "bureau" staffed by an actual reporter but in the virtual (videogame) world of Second Life (i.e., political conservatives think Reuters already lives in a fantasy world) . . . . . The Steelers’ Kendall Simmons was DNP yesterday against the Chiefs, injured during the game Monday night when he fell asleep with an ice pack on his foot and got frostbite.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Here are two stories that Action News is following for you, so tune in at 11 when we’ll have complete coverage—‘cause right now, we don’t know jack. (1) Los Angeles police are turning up super-rare old-time silver dollars (either that, or super-well-done fakes) among skid-row winos, who of course aren’t your best witnesses about what’s going on. (2) Investigators of an Ohio rollover accident last month said it may have been triggered by a red bra that a dog had chewed on—or, well, there may have been more to it than that; they don’t know yet. (It may be that the four teenage girls in one car, and the two older men in another car, were flashing each other while speeding, but investigators would like to interview the fourth girl in the car, but the other three say, basically, they never saw her before).

The News of the Weird Matchmaking Service raises issues, and then offers solutions. Take this report, for instance, in yesterday’s Washington Post on the status of shrinks’ efforts to make "compulsive shopping" a specific disability in the DSM. Now, if you’ve got this new mental illness, here’s one path to denial (based on this hed from yesterday’s La Crosse (Wis.) Tribune): "Sparta Man Says He Was Kidnapped, Forced to Shop."

The Post piece, though, has this delicious passage:
When [Lucille] Schenk finally sought help [for compulsively buying jewelry], New York psychologist April Lane Benson advised her to have a "conversation" with the jewelry before she made her next purchase, as a way to put some distance between herself and her compulsion. "I would say, ‘You are so beautiful, I can’t live without you; I love the way you sparkle,’" recalled Schenk, 62, in an interview. "The jewelry would say back, ‘You need me. You look pretty when you wear me.’ I would say, ‘I do need you. I can’t possibly think of being without you. But something has to change. I need to stop this. I can’t afford a penny more.’"
Below The Fold
Daniel Nanos is/was a tacky pervert, but when police found porn and meth-making stuff in his storage locker, he explained that the locker belongs to "Bad Dan" but that now he’s "Good Dan" . . . . . It’s thinly sourced and mainly a TV-friendly video, but this is a girl who can roller-skate underneath cars . . . . . A multi-tasking Kansas City businessman, in that, on the same day, he gets a nat’l leadership award from President Bush and a sentence of probation for selling drug paraphernalia . . . . . A Spokane, Wash., trial of principals in just one group of diploma mills turns up 135 federal gov’t customers, er, "graduates," including Nat’l Security Agency people and a White House staff member.

Friday, October 13, 2006

BBC television supposedly aired the documentary "Chimps Are People, Too" on Tuesday based on the work of primatologists in Des Moines and Atlanta, assessing how much chimps have in common with humans. One answer: They’re more human than human babies are. Another: The show’s host laid out his sweat, and the sweat of Cody the chimp, for a blind sniff test by three women, and two preferred Cody’s.

As if Speaker Hastert had nothing else on his plate, he’s now dealing with the Houston evangelical K. A. Paul, who kicked off a 30-city tour last Sunday in Cleveland by denouncing the invasion of Iraq, mainly because it hinders Christian missionary work in Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Wonkette.com has the photo of Paul and Hastert, and Paul said he and the speaker go way back.

Hamilton, Ohio,’s City Prosecutor Scott Blauvelt, who it turns out now is on medication for an organic brain injury, apparently does OK in court, but sometimes the synapses lead him off into the wild blue yonder, and that’s when (as happened Wednesday and Thursday of last week) he takes off his clothes and roams the halls at work. He might or might not have committed any crimes, but the Ohio Bar prefers its lawyers didn’t do that.

Performance Art We Like: There’s a week-long stunt in Ashington, England, now, in which a man walks on a doormat all day (as a "government doormat tester") to highlight the absurdity of, y’know, "things."

Sounds Like a Joke: Apparently, some Afghan Taliban fighters are shielding themselves from infra-red surveillance by planting lots of, er, tall marijuana plants, which supposedly absorb heat really well. In fact, the Canadian soldiers who found the field can’t even burn the plants because they’re so water-retentive. And further in fact, the Canadian military chief of staff said the one time they actually burned a few plants, the, er, "ill effects" of being downwind created a bummer.

The F State
We’re known for various liquids here--orange juice, Gatorade, salt water, margaritas, urine.
"Yaaa, Ya didn’t have no trouble when you were holding that Mountain Dew!" Anthony Mesa, who made all the weird-news boards last year as the then-latest workplace prankster to urinate in the coffee (in his case, though, Mountain Dew), is in trouble now during the house-arrest phase of his sentence because he can’t put out for the drug test.
Robert Insalaco, another of the species TKMB [The Kid’s Mother’s Boyfriend], got ticked that the 6-yr-old had wet the floor and so peed on the kid. [Ed. So, I forgot: Does this make the kid more likely or less likely to be a golden-showers man when he grows up?]
And in unliquid-related news, the Democratic candidate for a state House seat in Pasco County (just north of here), Donovan Brown, is back on the campaign trail after a two-week, involuntary R&R at the Harbor Behavioral Health Care Institute. [Yep, it is.] (The seat’s always been Republican, so it’s not like there’s a lot of pressure on him and his array of OCD, schizo affective disorder, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.)
And in Orlando, was it just careless photo printing by the school photographer, or did he purposely give that 7-yr-old girl some cleavage? [Link has a You-Be-the-Judge photo]

Below The Fold
Coca-Cola is set to intro Enviga on Nov. 6 as a "negative-calorie" drink (5 in, 60 out, because it’s green-tea-based) . . . . . In Maryville, Tenn., a serial Bible-shredder [so prepare for Christian riots!] . . . . . Dr. Kevin Reilly, an official with the state Dept. of Health Services in California, said they haven’t nailed down the specific manure source of the E.coli outbreak in spinach, or, as he actually said, "We do not have a smoking cow at this point" . . . . . The U.S. spilled an H-bomb in Spain in 1966, and now, on the spot, radioactive snails [Ed.: and the residents of a nearby village fear they’ve got only a few more yrs to decide what to do before the snails reach town].

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Nick Kintigos, desperate for some clean urine for his drug test, went to the trouble of looking up his nephew at Argillite (Ky.) Elementary, squiring him off to the boys’ restroom, and giving him a cup. When the kid came up empty, Kintigos allegedly asked two other kids for samples. Yr Editor guesses that a school-trespass-plus-forced-peeing story evoked proportionately more fear in Argillite yesterday than that plane crash evoked in NYC.

An assortment of young Muslims from around the world squared off for the about-$70k first prize in the Dubai Int’l Holy Koran Award, presented to the under-21's who best demonstrate mastery of the text (based on accuracy of memorization, quality of inflections, and quality of voice). The 10-yr-old Kenyan spotlighted by the NY Times reporter is another of those people who somehow memorize the whole thing even though they don’t know Arabic.

Authentic cowboys on horseback, almost right in the middle of Queens (New York City)! And all of them are black--the Federation of Black Cowboys, passing on horseman skills to black kids while teaching them the heritage of black contributions to the Old West. (Yes, they have to ride in busy streets, and yes, some of the horses are "stabled" in converted shipping containers, but . . ..)

The F State
Florida’s Sue Scheff runs a referral service for parents with problem kids, and though she helped Ms. Carey Bock get her kid back from Costa Rica, Bock called her a crook, a fraud, and a con artist on the Internet, so Scheff sued for defamation, and won (though Bock, a Louisianan financially hobbled by Hurricane Katrina, didn’t contest the lawsuit). Won, er, $11.3M. The amount would surely be lowered on appeal, but Bock can’t afford to appeal, and she doesn’t much care, anyway, because she doesn’t have $11.30 to pay Scheff, much less $11.3M. So Scheff looks to Yr Editor like a shameless, small-minded, vindictive, exploiter of the downtrod--oh, wait . . . Sorry ‘bout that, Sue . . . Make that . . . a courageous freedom-fighter, tirelessly working to improve the quality of our national dialogue. Yeah, that’s it.
From the Miami Herald's Key West reporter: "Within the southernmost city in the United States, an adult can walk down the main street with an open beer in hand, buy drug paraphernalia and sex toys, get a lap dance, and even have a cocktail in the nude at a rooftop bar. But an adult can’t get a tattoo." "It is pretty hypocritical, to be honest with you," said Key West commissioner Mark Rossi, but it looks like the ban won’t be lifted. Daytona Beach has a similar one.

Below The Fold
The Good Humor company announces an ice-cream sandwich (lactose-free!) for dogs . . . . . Nearly-gambling-free Israel opens a horse-racing track, for the, oh, 24 people who like to watch horses race without betting on them . . . . . Classic California: A state agency encourages gov’t and private employees to start worm farms at work, to toss in all uneaten scraps of food (no bologna!), to cut down on garbage.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More Non-Foley Campaign News: (1) A candidate for Secretary of State of Wisconsin self-published an autobio in 2004 in which she fondly recalled her friskier days as a Packers fan, including putting out for Paul Horning and Dan Currie. (2) Michigan’s Ottawa County said it will cost about $40k to reprint its ballots for Nov. 7, in that the ballot’s wording of a proposed amendment to the state constitution misspelled (in 6 places) the word "public" (and you surely know how it was misspelled).

Recurring Themes: It’s a pretty common family name in India, and in fact the head official of the Delhi regional gov’t in India has it as a name, but still, you’d think headline writers would be a little sensitive, and not like this.

Inside NOTW
It’s an irresistible story, and it got good play on Fark.com and other aggregate sites, but I don’t think so. "Lightning Exits Woman’s Bottom" is how Murdoch’s giant News.com.au hedded it, reporting that a woman "suffered severe burning to her anus after being struck by lightning which hit her in the mouth and passed right through her body." It’s got her name in the story, but not the city, or even the country. Turns out it’s from Zadar, Croatia, and it was introduced to the English-speaking world by the often-reckless Ananova.com. It’s possible, though.

A Food & Wine writer discovers that chef Homaro Cantu (Chicago’s Moto restaurant, which makes its delicacies on edible paper [NOTW 891, 3-6-2005]), has actually copyrighted the scrumptious dishes with the notices printed right on the paper, and wonders at which part of the food-intake process Cantu’s rights end (if at all).
A Chinese gov’t ministry issued a formal warning against that painful tallness procedure that some local height-challenged yuppies crave in order to give them a leg up in a competitive society [NOTW 748, 6-9-2002]. Ten people have been disfigured recently by the procedure, which involves breaking a leg bone and then stretching the parts slightly over time so that the bone’s natural regeneration will increase the length of the bone (i.e., Owwwwwww!).

Below The Fold
Blackpool, England, magistrates’ court was rudely interrupted by defendant Joseph Wildy, who let one rip (and was cited for contempt, but only because he laughed) [Link has deliciously tacky File Photo] . . . . . What Would Jesus Do if he couldn’t afford all the Christian music he wanted to spread around? Illegally download it, anyway? . . . . . Europe, Japan, and China ban, or severely restrict, formaldehyde, which is a rough carcinogen, but the U.S. says, Bring it! . . . . . She killed her adult son last yr, and prison officials released her to spend her final days (terminal cancer) at home, but then, when she got home, she killed her husband . . . . . A Mexican archaeologist, digging in San Luis Potosi state, concluded that women were of high status in pre-Hispanic culture because, er, he found drawings of them beheaded, and they only behead important people . . . . . Bayonne (N.J.) High School’s long-time guidance counselor was apparently the female version of Mark Foley writ large, helped by a Cardinal Bernard Law-type administration . . . . . Harvard researchers gear up to resume testing (after 40 yrs) LSD’s ability to cure alcoholism (up to 100 sugar cubes’ worth per dose!) . . . . . A Univ of Maryland researcher presents evidence that sports fans with chest pains, etc., wait to go to the ER until after the TV game is over . . . . . Hmmm---Bahamas uses cat-o’-nine-tails whippings sparingly, though it has a good street rep for reducing recidivism.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

So the NY Times last week visited a rural Chinese custom in which an unmarried person who dies must quickly exchange vows with an unmarried dead person of the opposite sex, in order to ensure a happy afterlife [Backstage, 10-7-2006]. This morning, the Wall Street Journal visits a Madagascar custom in which a corpse must be dug up every five to seven yrs, dressed garishly, and partied with, in order to ensure a continued happy afterlife (but maybe, just maybe, the custom is losing favor). [Ed.: The WSJ story is pay-per-view today, but sometimes you can catch a free syndicated version somewhere; do a news-search starting tomorrow with, e.g., malagasy, shinbone, ancestors]

The editor of the go-to nat’l weekly Amish newspaper Die Botschaft said the schoolhouse killings didn’t make the paper this week because traditionally the newspaper is not for, y’know, murder, war, love, religion. Also, there’s not enough space, what with all the corn harvest news, birth announcements, pitchfork accidents, and Heloise-type tips. [Los Angeles Times]

Below The Fold
It’s damned sure not your father’s mafia any more, e.g., the "Camorra" mob in Italy was just busted for feeding steroids to buffaloes so they could corner the mozzarella-cheese milk market . . . . . 3 Burger King employees were arrested for serving two cops the specially-seasoned dopeburger . . . . . New healing breakthrough: bandages dipped in maggot juice . . . . . "There’s nothing like putting yourself through a lot of pain for nothing; I can’t feel my face" -- amateur competitive eater at a jalapeno-eating contest in Dallas . . . . . In a new documentary, a pedophile ex-priest rats out Los Angeles’s Cardinal Mahony as his enabler . . . . . Gov. Jeb Bush, in Pittsburgh to speak for Sen. Santorum’s re-election, cleverly blew a kiss to street demonstrators, who then virtually chased him into a supply closet in a subway station.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Latest Non-Foley Campaign News: Missouri state Rep. Jason Brown will stay in the race for re-election despite being shot in the lung near Baghdad, where he’s a road-builder in the Army Reserve . . . . . Plymouth, Mass., Selectman Sean Dodgson will remain in office despite his arrest in an online child-sex sting (He said he was just conducting an independent investigation) . . . . . Lawyer Albert Rivera’s campaign posters (for president of the Catalonia region in Spain) all feature him naked ("We don’t care what kind of clothes you wear. We care about you.") . . . . . Donovan Brown, running for a Florida House seat, said he’s eager to get back on the campaign trail (now restless after recently being involuntarily committed to a mental health center under the state’s Baker Act).

Not What They Had in Mind: A United Nations office reached out to YouTubers for some creative ways to market its "stand up against poverty" campaign. Rednecks.tv submitted a video of three guys eating beans, heavy into a raucous discussion of gas-passing, when one of the men turns to the camera and says, "Some folks don’t even have a bowl of beans to eat." [Wall Street Journal]

Below The Fold
In Bournemouth, England, a guy just released from jail after conviction for breaking into a police sting car was arrested a few hours later, for breaking into a police sting car . . . . . The world record for most poisonous snakes kissed (11) fell (19) . . . . . "What we have here is like the Super Bowl," said a N’awlins deputy police chief, referring to the booming prostitution trade, serving all the temp workers rebuilding the city . . . . . The total now is four infants destined to receive continuous beat-downs later in life, since they’re the four so far whose parents have named them Espn.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Sixties may be dead as far as Iraq war demonstrations, but they live on at all-deaf Gallaudet Univ. in Washington, D.C., where 200 students barricaded themselves in an admin. building to protest the incoming president, who they think is not deaf enough. (She was born deaf but has earned her achievements outside the "deaf community" and apparently isn’t fluent in sign.)

One Downers Grove, Ill., woman has been feuding with another for years, and in the latest episode, she (call her Lady A) enlisted Son A to plant marijuana and Rx drugs in the backpack of Son B at school so that Lady B would get in trouble. Except that Son A, when caught, sang like a canary.

A Minnesota County Administrator (Freeborn county, on the Iowa border) finally got in trouble for his longtime license plate, FOAD1, which he lamely said meant "freedom offers Americans democracy," while a now-critical-mass understand it have meant "[F] Off And Die."

Recurring Themes: In a NY case, Kimberly Baker, 22, asked a judge for child support from her 2-yr-old baby’s daddy, and named the gentleman, who turned out to be a quite-junior version of a gentleman, age 16. Doing the math, the judge found the daddy to have been 13-1/2 at the time of the around-fooling, which makes Kimberly, at 19-1/2, a criminal . . . . . Yeah, leaving your ID behind at the scene of a burglary is No Longer Weird, but can’t there be an exception if the "ID" consists of a video of the burglar’s family reunion?

The F State
1970s cult leader "Black Messiah" Yahweh Ben Yahweh, who is now on parole for a conviction linked to 23 killings (some beheadings), including of "white devils," petitioned a judge to get out of parole because he has advanced cancer and, said his lawyer, "is entitled to die with dignity."
Lawrence Roach petitioned a judge, too, in Pinellas County. He wants out of an alimony order on the ground that his ex-wife just became a man. "I’m a man," said Roach, "and I don’t want to be paying alimony to a man."

Tammy Felbaum, 48, who used to be Thomas Wyda before personally removing her clinton, and who is serving 5-to-11 in a Pennsylvania prison for removing her boyfriend’s clinton (which she said was consensual but which his friends and a judge said was not and besides, turned out to be fatal), is facing additional charges for writing a death threat to a prosecutor. [NOTW 686, 4-1-2001; NOTW 726, 1-6-2002]
From the IgNobels I mentioned yesterday, here’s the actual abstract of the Medicine prize paper, "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage."
Turns out that the very popular teacher at Long Island School for the Gifted, Michael Reiner [Backstage, 9-28-2006], is a vegetarian. Yr Editor reports that because, if you recall, he’s been arrested (and fired) for running a deeply-stocked website of fantasy stories about "young boys, slavery, and cannibalism." (But no matter how popular and sensitive and caring the parents and kids think he is, woo-wee, you should see the stuff the feds found on his computers!)
The NY Times did a big page A-1 dispatch from Chenjiayuan, China, on Thursday about the ancient rural custom of pairing up dead singles in "marriage" so that they’d have a happy (?) afterlife. [Ed.: Usually I can find the antecedent NOTW story, but this one’s too difficult for my primitive Search program.] Irony Alert: In rural areas where more women than men have fled for the big cities, it is women who are more valuable, as wives, even though in other parts of China, it is believed that baby girls are aborted right and left. Result, in these rural areas: More men are dying unmarried, setting the family off in a mad scramble for female corpses to nuptialate them up to.

Below The Fold
Not to be outdone by "ambulance chasers," a Dresden, Germany, lawyer is practically a "UFO chaser" . . . . . In mellow Boulder, Colo., cops enforce the frisbee-and-football-tossing prohibition in a city park--against Hacky-Sac’ers . . . . . Several Spanish villages announce that in their annual festivals celebrating the 15th-century uprising against Moorish rule, they’ll no longer, er, lop off the head of an effigy of the Prophet Mohammed character . . . . . A Bolivian labor dispute over access to a tin mine--with workers lobbing dynamite at each other . . . . . Seriously: touring Chick-fil-A groupies . . . . . Prof. Bruce Bukiet’s sophisticated computer modeling of the American League playoff teams is probably a thing of beauty, apparently lacking only one dimension: accuracy (unless somehow the Twins play the Yankees for the pennant).

Friday, October 06, 2006

[NOTE: Yr Editor's cable modem has been down all day, and this dial-up crap is so annoying, especially since Earthlink has put so many frills on its service that you know some of them are just going to interfere with my old settings. Arrrrgh. This post is in stages. First, the text. Then, if that works, some of the links. Then, if that works, the rest of the links. Cheers.]

The IgNobel Peace prize went to Howard Stapleton for his high-pitched teenager repellant that most adults can’t hear [NOTW 962, 7-16-06; NOTW 932, 12-18-2005]. Other winners for various science research included work showing that dung beetles are finicky eaters, and why woodpeckers don’t get headaches, and why it is so irritating to hear fingernails on a blackboard. The IgNobel prize for Medicine went to a team that published "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage."

According to this report, at least, the top religious leader in Iran, who dispenses micro-level advice on all things Islam, is dealing with the effects of single-player discharges of semen during Ramadan. Depends on intention and whether you’re doing during Ramadan something you know has previously produced a discharge. Also, it is permissible to drink water at night while standing up.

Here’s a nice Bush piece from the Times on Wednesday, in which he’s self-critical:

"Sometimes, Bush said, he’s in so much of a hurry he gets too far out in front of the people he’s leading. ‘To be a leader, you have to have followers,’ Bush said. ‘You have to have people who can actually understand what you’re trying to do, and be able to communicate that message.’"
Oh, wait. That was from the St. Petersburg Times, and it was Gov. Jeb Bush criticizing himself.

I Didn’t Do What They Said I Did: (1) Kirstin Lobato, on trial now in Las Vegas for killing Duran Bailey in 2001 and cutting off his [as Foley IM’d] "little guy" and who had supposedly confessed the mutilation to a witness, said, Oh, no, I didn’t have anything to do with Duran Bailey; it was another fellow in Vegas in 2001 whose little guy I cut off. (2) U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood, running for re-election in Scranton, Pa., despite recent revelations of an affair in 2004, said, OK, OK, I cheated on my wife, but I did not "repeatedly chok[e]" her, as she claimed on the police report and which was the subject of her lawsuit that I settled out of court.

The Laws of Irony Are Strictly Enforced: A suspicious dad filed an open-records request for background data on employees at his daughter’s rec center in a Fort Worth, Tex., suburb. A week later, the center ran a big background check on dad (ostensibly to assure that he was a city resident entitled to use the center, but that could have been taken care of by looking at a utility bill). Dad went to see the mayor, who said, See, You want the backgrounds of rec center workers, but how does it feel to have your background looked at? Turns out that the city that ordered a big (illegal) check on dad had been quite lax at (legally) looking at the backgrounds of the rec center employees. When those results came back, the city was forced to fire some workers with criminal records. Dad, who happens to be a former county prosecutor, is mulling a you-know-what.

The first four digits after the decimal in pi are 1415, not 1416, as I much-too-cleverly wrote yesterday.

Recurring Themes
Schering Norge AS issued a statement warning people not to use its hemorrhoid cream, Scheringproct, on the face. Well, OK. Turns out a "stylist" in Norway had mentioned that models use it on their faces to reduce puffiness (just like a guest on Oprah Winfrey had recommended [NOTW 906, 6-19-2005]).

Yesterday, Backstage reported that Iowa’s Powerball winner would keep her job at Wal-Mart. Turns out she sat on the ticket for two weeks before claiming the prize, which apparently gave hope to lots of players that the "missing" winning ticket was somehow the one they bought but lost track of. Here are Iowa lottery officials’ favorite lame claims, including, of course, the guy whose dog ate it.

Below The Fold
London’s Daily Mail interviewed a guy whose job, literally, is to watch paint dry . . . . . "60 Minutes" will report on Sunday that the gov’t’s No-Fly list (as of March, anyway) still had the names of 14 of the 19 9-11 hijackers on it (but none of the recently-arrested London airliner bombers, who had been under surveillance since last year) . . . . . A Virginia sex offender was picked up in the woods near his daughter’s place in Georgia, living in an 8x4x6 spider hole . . . . . Vicious ol’ Patches the dog was expelled from Indiana and must now live in Cottontown, Tenn., but the Cottontown sheriff is not down with that . . . . . Crime Rookies: shoplifters who think aluminum foil in the purse defeats a security system, and obscene callers who apparently have never heard of caller-ID . . . . . And finally, from BoingBoing comes this link of a seemingly normal teacher at the U. of New Mexico--except that his entire skull is covered with a full-colored tribal tattoo.