Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday’s 5-Star Special
For the day's best news story, see Updates, below . . . but do it quickly.

Civilization in Decline

Canada’s passport office’s online application form until a few days ago was so secure that all you had to do to read other people’s private data was alter one character in the URL assigned to your own application. The office said it fixed the problem immediately upon being notified. (Bonus: It didn’t.)

The Human Condition Today
Yet another person No Longer With Us because he was poor at multi-tasking (i.e., talking on phone plus crossing railroad tracks) . . . . . In the course of a story on a failed drive-up-window bank robbery, the reporter found that 78 drive-ups were among the 7,272 bank robberies in 2006 and that a few actually worked . . . . . About $570m in U.S. lottery winnings went unclaimed last yr, and at this minute, 100 tickets of $100k or more, including 12 of $1m or more, are still out, with deadlines approaching (all-time record loss: a $51.7m ticket from 2002) . . . . . A 24-yr-old man stopped a motorist on the side of the road to pretend to be an FBI agent and lecture him about something, but unfortunately, the "agent" was himself not on the "side of" the road; he was in the right lane and was creamed by a dumptruck . . . . . Mary Gates was arrested for trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband (Bonus: Mary’s mugshot, suggesting that her husband might ought to have thought seriously about killing himself) . . . . . The U.S. Court of Appeals gets its "Jennifer Aniston" on: A Wisconsin inmate can’t hang a mailed-in photo of her on his wall, but can tear out a magazine shot, the judges seem to declare, as a matter of law . . . . . Yr Editor lives in the F State and is maybe unaware that this sort of thing happens in Quebec all the time, but a 43-yr-old man and a 72-yr-old woman got into a little Laurel-and-Hardy-type duel, with snowblowers, until the man choked her and threw her to the ground.

Microsoft has shut down the automated, artificial-intelligence-run instant-messenger service that allows people to interact with Santa’s elves, because of a problem in the software, i.e., it was too easy to trick the elf into mentioning "oral sex."


(1) Our old friends the Phelpses of Westboro Baptist Church have produced a creepy, yet surprisingly untacky, five-minute music video send-up of We Are the World, specifically, God Hates the World, which you can access here, as of about 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, but beware, websites may take this down all over the place because of copyright problems [link from]. It is well known that Fred Phelps’s anti-homosexual projects are so wretched that he hardly (if ever) attracts participants outside of his own extended family, and the choral group on the video jibes in size with what has been reported as that family. (Also, there appears to be some music talent in the Phelps genes!) The Phelps phenomenon presents the News of the Weird equation in its purest form: Readers are absolutely certain that the people in the news story are nuts, and the people in the news story are absolutely certain that it’s everybody else who’s nuts. Ah, equilibrium! (2) Yr Editor mentioned [NOTW Daily, 10-13-2007] that Greenpeace had started to tout kangaroo meat as a way to save the planet from cow methane, but now a gov’t-sponsored scientist in Australia goes a step further: start transferring to cows that special stomach bacteria that kangaroos have that limit their farts. (3) A professional hunter in Zimbabwe was arrested for, basically, taunting the gov’t, which has the world’s most ridiculous inflation, as Yr Editor has mentioned several times. The hunter took formerly-valuable bank notes, stamped his contact information on them, and passed them out internationally as business cards.

Professor Music’s Weird Links
Not today. Maybe tomorrow.™

NOTW, The Blog
Artist Uri Fischer opened his work at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in New York City, with "work" consisting of a massive hole in the ground (38 ft x 30 ft x 8 ft deep), which is self-explanatorily titled You. (That was a joke.) The best part of this news is the review by Jerry Saitz in New York magazine, 11-26-2007, in which Jerry tells you in luscious prose all the dozens of complex ways that this installation has touched his senses. (It has always been true that a fine line separates "art criticism" from clinically-diagnosable delusion, and it's really tough to decide which side Jerry is on.) Now, NOTW Daily readers with sharp memories will recall that there’s yet another 2007 art installation, in London, that is basically a huge hole in the ground [NOTW Daily, 10-13-2007]. When Yr Editor was tipped this week to a hole-in-the-ground art installation, I initially dismissed it, failing to advert to the fact that, well, there might be two of these at the same time on the same planet. This was a lapse by Yr Editor, and if there were a rehab camp for replenishing one’s sense of the possibilities of absurdity, I’d be doing 30 days right now. Sigh.

Don Schwartz, Harry Farkas, Paul Di Filippo, James Wicht, Tim Farley, Matt Mirapaul, Eli Christman, Bill Schoenbart, Brad Gray
This posting to News of the Weird Daily is © 2007 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.