Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Recurring Themes
The Shiite Ashura day came and went yesterday, once again showcasing the world’s, er, "diversity." Some Muslims believe they’re not holy unless (in tribute to the suffering of some 7th-century saint named Hussein) they slash themselves all to hell, blood streaming, etc., and start indoctrinating their urchins at age 6 or younger to cut themselves up, too. Said one Lebanese objector, "When the rest of the world is going to the moon, look where these people are—still drawing blood from their heads."
Yr Editor highly recommends this first-person account in Monday’s Guardian (London) by an apotemnophiliac, which is a big word that Yr Editor uses when he needs to feel smart. That’s a person with an obsession to remove one or more limbs. "It is not a sexual thing; it is certainly not a fetish; and it is nothing to do with appearances," she writes. "I simply cannot relate to myself with two legs." What you have to go through: a minimum of six hours of excruciating pain by dry ice to kill the leg completely because otherwise no surgeon will chop it off.

Below The Fold
Two school groups, trying to stop the student fighting in Pakistan, get into a fight with each other over who gets to put up an anti-fighting poster [Link corrected] . . . . . 55 nuns running a business in Greece got in a little over their heads and had to make a run for it until things cool off; they’ve asked the Orthodox Church to help them settle the debts . . . . . We don’t have the official police verdict yet, but it smells like the ol’ senior-citizen gas-brake confusion, only this time the 84-yr-old, heading for a driving seminar, smashed into a school and killed a kid . . . . . The Korean Institute of Criminal Justice reported that South Korean gangsters generally report more satisfaction with their lives than do the police . . . . . There are apparently parts of Barcelona, Spain, that you can legally walk around naked in, according to this report . . . . . Cliches Come to Life: France, with Europe’s shortest average workweek, is now trying to promote the benefits of mid-day naps . . . . . Assault a cop, with a colostomy bag . . . . . The HMP Brixton prison in London, remodeling, will turn its toilets 90 degrees so they’re not facing Mecca, so as not to offend the Muslims housed there (people who are, by definition, criminal dirtbags) . . . . . It appears that nothing can be done to stop St. Emery’s Church (Fairfield, Conn.) from its human-rights-crushing program of loud-speakering 10 minutes of hymns to the neighborhood at 9, noon, 3, and 6 every day.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oh, Jeez, Another Thing to Worry About: Just what we need. U.S. ground troops and allies’ bombers finally stopped several hundred messianic Shiites called the Solders of Heaven, who were poised to kill ordinary Shiites near Baghdad, and right now, there are probably hundreds of McVeigh-loving Christian Identity types in the U.S. feeling rejuvenated. SoH and CI are each into speeding up Armageddon so they can finally get some order in the world again. SoH, heavily-armed, held their own for a while against the bewildered Iraqi army, and in the last 36 hours or so, Yr Editor imagines e-mails a-buzzin’ among the, what, the Phineas Priesthood and the others saying, "See? We can do it. This can work."

The F State Comes Up Big: (1) Robert Moore, 37, of Floral City, is obviously one of the true sanctity-of-life believers in the state because he was so angry that his wife had an abortion that he (according to police) tried to kill her. (2) Jesse "The Human Bomb" Aviles’s "talent" is to lie across two bar stools, wearing helmet and protective clothing, and let someone set off fireworks under him, to achieve lift-off, but his show in Crystal River last weekend was axed, for lack of a permit [there’s a permit for that?]. (3) Edward Cowal just won the $14M Florida lottery, the 2nd time he has been called to the state’s attention; the first was when he was placed on the sex-offender registry. (4) The warden explaining to an investigatory panel that the late double-murderer Angel Diaz was not squirming in pain at his botched December execution but was probably just straining to look at a clock on the wall. ("What, was he late for an appointment?" asked Diaz’s lawyer.)

The Arrangements Have Been Made (which is Yr Editor’s file name for "you can try as hard as you want, but the bigshots will always find a way to win"): In 1984, the New Jersey legislature gave a state development agency about $400M to help rebuild the neighborhoods around casinos, on the theory that the blight was depressing potential tourists. Instead, reported the NY Times on Sunday, the agency just gave it to casinos [Link Corrected], which spent on inside upgrades to compete better with other tourist and gambling destinations. Winners, even though they can easily afford to spend their own money, somehow find a way to spend other people’s.

Proof that some people have way-too-much money: A fella named Tom Vilsack (who used to be governor of Iowa) reported that some people actually had enough money lying around in the last 7 weeks of 2006 that they could give him $1,100,000 because they think he might have a chance in hell of being President.

Note to File: Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, all with exquisite games, all worked hard, all practiced to be the best, all willed themselves to be champions. Barbaro . . . was a horse.

Below The Fold
U.S. State Dept.’s suggestion to the UN on global warming: Y’know, we could fix the whole thing with some dust and mirrors . . . . . In one Saudi tribe, a judicially sanctioned divorce was awarded to the woman, no, wait, actually, to her parents, when they found out the groom had an insufficient pedigree . . . . . UK approved a 12-yr-old boy to start hormone treatment, becoming the world’s youngest medical transsexual (but he has to wait til age 18 for the lopping-off) . . . . . And while that girl is growing her breasts, another piece in the British press says men are stepping up their own man-breast reductions (doubling in the past yr) . . . . . A slow news day classic, from Euless, Tex.

Monday, January 29, 2007

"What if we created the ultimate toilet and you would never have to [leave]?" That was a Roto Rooter guy, thinking up a contest. So they pimped up a toilet to offer as grand prize: 20-inch flat screen TV, TiVo, iPod with toilet paper in docking station; bike-pedal exerciser, laptop computer, Xbox 360, DVD player, refrigerator with beer tap, cup warmer/cooler, fan, and a couple of more things.

China Gets Serious About Sucking Up to Islam: This is the Year of the Pig in China, and New Year’s Day is upon us, and the gov’t’s TV network CCTV last week banned representations of the pig on TV because, apparently, being reminded that there are pigs in the world sends Muslims into deep depression or even rage. Many pig celebrations remain, though (Disney China emphasizes its Piglet this year; Starbucks sells piggy banks; even the country's postal service is pig-themed). [Wall Street Journal $$]

Creative Solution to Prison-Crowding: The UK Home Secretary is seriously considering a queuing system for doing time, sort of like scheduling your sentence at some point in the future when a bed opens up in the Big House. But the future is now in Las Vegas, where federal magistrate Peggy Leen released a notorious bunko artist, John Baldo, on condition that he report right away to the authorities in Boston, where he is wanted in a $2M scheme. (He’s supposedly not dangerous, in the gun way, but turning loose such an accomplished BS artist is surely a stretch.)

Below The Fold
Update: By the way, that Michigan Muslim woman who had her lawsuit tossed out because she wouldn’t show her face while testifying [NOTW Daily, 10-24-2006] has been resurrected for re-hearing . . . . . A Virginia attempted-murder case made it all the way through the trial, right up to closing arguments, before the 74-yr-old defense lawyer had a major senior moment and forgot what he planned to tell the jury (Mistrial!) . . . . . A 7th-grade biology teacher was suspended for asking kids to draw a man’s junk on the blackboard . . . . . The health minister of Japan’s Shimane Prefecture, attributing the low birth rate to the fixed number of women age 15-50: "Because the number of birth-giving machines [is] fixed," they must do their best . . . . . Wrong Place, Wrong Time: A woman sued Penn State because she was taking an exam in 2005, and a stuffed moose head fell off a wall and hit her on the noggin . . . . . District of Calamity: Washington, D.C., fights driving-while-cellphoning by putting up 43 billboards with messages on how distracting the phones are . . . . . People Different From Us: Commotion in front yard, husband goes to check it out, wife follows with shotgun, wife feels threatened by intruder, wife accidentally shoots husband, intruder flees . . . . . The Perfect Local News Story (with photo): TV station on the scene reporting on dangers of thin ice, and, ahhhh, you know what happened . . . . . Dangers of Wicca: Three witchy women patronizing the Wolf Mountain Trading Company, Lititz, Pa., were so trusting of the kindred spirit shopkeeper that, they allege, they let him heal them of various problems in the back room (and were shocked that clothing seemed to hinder his work) . . . . . Least Competent Novelist (27 books so far): Carson City’s David Eddings, who decided the best way to check whether that liquid on the floor was water or gasoline was to toss a lighted paper on it.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Filmmaker Dominic Scott Kay filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on Thursday against a financial backer of his short "Saving Angelo" (starring Kevin Bacon), demanding "creative control" of the work. That’s about it, the whole story. Oh, wait . . . Dominic is 10 yrs old.

I Cannot Tell a Lie: According to the Cook County, Ill., sheriff, George Robotis, 44, has been representing clients, felicitously, in courts in Chicago and suburbia, and Indiana, for at least a year. Small cases, small fees, but there he was, and no complaints against him. Ten days ago, he was representing a guy on a marijuana possession charge in Judge John Kirby’s courtroom in Chicago when Kirby noticed Robotis’s bar-association member number was missing from his filing. What’s your number, Mr. Robotis? "Oh, I’m not an attorney." (He’s picked up a lot, though, stemming from his 23 larceny convictions, plus others.)

Below The Fold
Glenn Vickers was arrested for DUI, shortly after he, sloppily tailgating the high sheriff in Charleston, W.Va., flipped him the finger as he peeled off—and crashed into a guardrail . . . . . California mountain lions must be pussies because it says here that a 65-yr-old woman fought one off of her husband in Redlands State Park using a small piece of wood and a ball-point pen . . . . . Arrested on felony marijuana possession charges in Tampa: the 23-yr-old Mr. Steve Innocent (and, actually, he might be) . . . . . A retired Plimmerton, New Zealand, man, angry that new mansions were sullying his historic neighborhood, spray-painted the colloquial for caca on the latest (but he’s sorry, and no charges will be filed) . . . . . Aaron de Bruyn was arrested in Washington state for Tasering his wife’s grandmother, but Yr Editor can't see the crime: After all, she wouldn’t stop dogging his parental skills, and after he told her to get out, he gave her 60 seconds, and counted them down, before pulling the trigger. I mean, come on! . . . . . The decidely-pale mayor of Brazoria, Tex. (pop. 2787, 50 miles south of Houston), proposed to ban the ol’ n-word in the city, at a penalty of up to $500 per . . . . . At Ada Barak’s spa in northern Israel, you can get a massage featuring the relaxing slithering of six nonvenomous snakes on your body . . . . . A nun-run hospice in Oxford, England, granted the terminally-ill 22-yr-old man his wish to lose his virginity, and a prostitute was procured . . . . . One of the people who’ll get compensation (at least £107,000 for a broken leg) in the July 7 London bombings is a 1985 convicted vicious rapist, whose two victims tapped the compensation fund at that time for, er, £7,000 each (figure £13,000 in today’s pounds).

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Laws of Irony Are Strictly Enforced: (1) A bunch of Nairobi street kids raided the food tent and chowed down on the feast that had been set up for ministers and dignitaries in town to fret about poverty for the World Social Forum. (2) Arrested (and hospitalized) in Lilburn, Ga., was Ezekiel Dejesus-Rodriguez, 24, who allegedly went on a vandalism jag at the cemetery next to Luxomni Baptist Church, until one of the headstones fell on him, pinned him down, and broke his leg. (3) Among those arrested by San Francisco police this week in a 35-yr-old murder-conspiracy case involving the Black Liberation Army’s targeting of cops (or, in BLA lingo, pigs, er, honky pigs) was Richard O’Neal, 57. O’Neal’s lawyer, James Bustamante, is trying to make the kind, gentle, now-universally loved man seem completely transformed from the one accused of opening fire on a cop in 1971: Said Bustamante, O’Neal hasn’t been in trouble since his early 20's and is in fact now an "easygoing, straight-shooting guy."

Below The Fold
You Know Your Time Has Come: A 63-yr-old flagpole repairman in Anoka, Minn., was killed when that metal ball at the top of the pole fell off and hit him on the head . . . . . Ahmadinejad turns his back toward the West, drops trou, grabs ankles, i.e., a February 11th performance of the Tehran Orchestra will feature a "nuclear symphony" [link from Fark.com] . . . . . Questions still unanswered: Veterinarians in Antwerp, Belgium, said they’ll have to amputate an iguana’s priapic clinton (but he'll be fine because iguanas have two, y’know) . . . . . The New Jersey gov’t sent curiously specific letters to residents in Ringwood advising that until further notice: Don't eat squirrel more than twice a week (once a week if you’re pregnant, once a month, if you’re a kid) . . . . . News to warm the hearts of tax-evaders everywhere: New Zealand lets taxpayers deduct only up to $1,800 in charitable donations, so its wealthiest lady, looking to give away a lot of her $275m, up and moved to Australia (which has no limit) . . . . . A 52-yr-old man in Chimacum, Wash., accidentally shot a hole in his hand Sunday celebrating that exciting Reggie Bush touchdown run against the Bears.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Can’t Possibly Be True: The slot-machine screen, and an employee, at the Philadelphia Park racetrack (Bensalem, Pa.) quite clearly and unambiguously told Stephen Wilkinson he had just won $102k but then management came along and said, no, no, sorry, we were just testing the software (but here, have these two meal tickets on us).

Below The Fold
Who knew? The patriotic "U-S-A!" chant (at Baraboo, Wis., High School, anyway) really means that the opponents draw human posterior into their mouths by creating partial vacuums . . . . . A well-conceived, meticulously executed theft of high-end art and antiques trucked away from a San Francisco home was, er, shot to hell when one of the perps blew the cover by trying to sell it back 3 days later from the same truck . . . . . If you call 911 to report smoke coming from a barbecue restaurant, you know the dispatcher’s gonna give you a hard time (which, it turns out, was too bad for the owner of the restaurant) . . . . . At age 20, he was certain he had found the woman to bear his babies, but it might have been just too much coffee that made him think he needed that assault rifle . . . . . Netherlands TV’s next big thing: a dating game for the "visibly disfigured" (mercifully no longer called "Monster Love") . . . . . Scientists at Germany’s Institute of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology concluded, after 3 yrs’ study, that when sloths don’t do something, they don’t do it for a long time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dig deep enough, and everyone has an issue—even guys like prominent Univ. of North Carolina public-health researcher Hugh Tilson (accused of having his way with himself in a crowded airport restroom) and Lord Justice Richards of the Court of Appeal in Britain (accused of demonstrating himself to a female train passenger).

Update: Ed Brown (the New Hampshire tax evader [NOTW Daily, 1-19-2007]) is still holed up and attracting a swarm of anti-tax and black-helicopter types to his home, where he plans to fight to the bloody end when IRS’s jack-booted, Waco-oriented thugs come for him. He's said repeatedly that he’d rather be dead than pay those taxes, which aligns him with Constitution Ranger William Miller: "Ed Brown, my friend and mentor, for patriotic reasons, is now worth more to me, and to what I stand for, dead, than alive." Mrs. Brown, though, convicted with him, has moved out and has crazily chosen to join the rest of us mindless humps in accepting the torturous 20-something-percent skim of our income.

Below The Fold
United Press Int’l reported from Buenos Aires that a tattoo artist, asked by a teenager to ink the logo of a soccer team on his back (but a team the tattoo artist hates), inked a big clinton, instead, and now the kid’s suing . . . . . Actual Headline (AP story on NYC’s WINS radio website): "Son Gets Six Months, Probation for Dismembering Mother" . . . . . Communism survives on yet another continent: Britons and Canadians arriving at a super-isolated spot in Antarctica find remnants of a 1956 Soviet outpost, topped with a glorious, still-pristine statue of Lenin . . . . . An Australian psychologist allegedly told the bulimic woman that her only hope for cure would be to take off her clothes and to let him beat her with this coat-hanger, and she said, Well, if it’s the only way . . ..

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Alexandra Pelosi’s Gotcha Documentary: On Thursday night, HBO debuts the Speaker’s daughter’s "Friends of God" video, including a pre-disgrace episode with pastor Ted Haggard joking with two other evangelicals about how often their wives "climax." Also on the show: drive-through services, Christian pro wrestling, biblical mini-golf, and a conversation with an ex-career woman who decided she’d rather stay home, give birth 10 times, and dress like "Little House on the Prairie."

Construction Worker-by-Day, Rocket Scientist on Weekends: Alfie Carrington, 57, acting on an epiphany 30 yrs ago, started figuring out how to build a Jetson-style flying saucer. $60k later, at work in his rented storage locker in Clinton, Mich., he’s trying to build an aircraft that engineers haven’t been able to master yet (a "rotary engine to stimulate a magnetic levitation system to rotate the ship’s two discs [that] would draw air into propeller blades," according to the AP). One engineer AP contacted said it sounds like the contraption might rip itself apart from the stress of centrifugal force, but, said Carrington's pastor, "Something genius is hiding away in Alfie’s eccentricities."

Another editor buries the lede: The AP had a good lede, though, with a bookkeeper embezzling so much money that she had to spend some of it on a ceramic statue of Al Capone and Hollywood movie props, like a 20-ft-tall smoke-emitting dragon and six "talking trees" like those in "The Wizard of Oz." Better lede: She embezzled $7 million from some company called J&J Materials of Rehoboth, Mass., and they not only didn’t notice that she was writing $1 million a year in checks to herself, but they actually loved her (right up until they hired someone to help her in 2006 and learned the awful truth).

Below The Fold
Latest great use put to local gov’t grants in the UK: teaching immigrants how to swing on the trapeze . . . . . A 23-yr-old man was arrested in Hilton Head Island, S.C., when police spotted him having a fistfight with some shrubbery (Alcohol Was Involved, AWI) . . . . . Soldier Field Built Too Close to Lake Michigan: Two people (maybe a third) apparently fell into the almost ice-cubed water Sunday night celebrating the Bears’ victory (AWI) . . . . . Three words: feral Tsih Tzus . . . . . A freshly-minted Scotland Yard graduate (who is also a Muslim) declined a congratulatory handshake with the police chief because her religion won’t let her touch a man who’s not a relative, but she’s sure Islam won’t mind when she jumps on a male perp if her partner’s in trouble . . . . . A basement flat in London’s oh-so-swanky Knightsbridge is about to go for the equivalent of $4,340 a square foot (all 77 of them, which is like 9 ft by 8.5 ft, which’ll cost you $335k, plus whatever you have to spend to install electricity and heating).

Monday, January 22, 2007

News That’s Just Too Sweet: Fox has bought the Survivor creator’s latest reality show, which pits parents against each other to answer questions from elementary school textbooks ("Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?"). What a great job to have (selecting the most charismatic wannabes who already know they're going to be intellectual schlumps, just to be on teevee)!

Furthermore, in that vein: 22 ordinary middle-class people, i.e., of average ignorance, fell completely for a Louisiana woman’s far-fetched scam, which netted her almost $1m. She told them she was a CIA agent and therefore had access to a satellite imaging system that could scan their bodies for disease and that there was no muss or fuss to it because CIA agents would do all the administering of the scans by coming into their homes while they were asleep. "Solid, middle-class, educated citizens" was how a prosecutor described these victims.

The Arrangements Have Been Made: This is the title under which Yr Editor considers ass-backward breakdowns in which the Americans at the top of the food chain always win, always, somehow. In the NY Times yesterday, Ben Stein describes a case in which the big cheese principal of a public company makes a business decision, via a rubber-stamping board of directors, that is blatantly to his great, great benefit while being simultaneously to the obvious detriment of the shareholders. That the company is Caremark RX, whose only job it is to say "no" to sick people who want health insurance to cover their prescriptions, tends not to inspire outrage.

Below The Fold
The death rate of black men in prison is lower than the death rate of black men not in prison (probably because "prison" is not as dangerous as the "inner city") . . . . . Muslims and Christians in India working together—in their common fear of yoga . . . . . The mayor of Fago, Spain (described as an "unpleasant" man), was murdered, and so despised was he that police consider every single citizen a suspect and have begun mass DNA testing . . . . . How can you drunkenly crash through a window and fall 17 stories and just get a broken leg out of it (especially when Yr Editor has one more opening for a Thinning the Herd story)? . . . . . The most common boy’s name for births in 2006 in Arizona: Angel (but in NY, the vast majority of Hispanics are giving their kids Anglo names) . . . . . Corporate execs caught up in that stock option backdating thing are giving the options back to the company, but in most cases, the company is giving them equivalent bonuses in their place (uh, well: The Arrangements Have Been Made) [Wall Street Journal $$] . . . . . Three guys in Lindenhurst, N.Y., allegedly stole what they probably thought were cellphones (that they would re-sell), but they were global positioning satellite devices, which made the guys really easy to track down . . . . . A major reason so many men are becoming HIV positive, says a major AIDS group about to sue, is because Pfizer replaced Bob Dole with younger men in its Viagra ads (seriously).

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Inside NOTW
You Heard It Here First: A NY couple is going through a divorce but have built a wall on the 2nd floor of their 3-story townhouse so that each has half the place. The AP is on that story, or, you could have read it here 10 months ago [NOTW 945, 3-19-2006] And a Washington Post reporter sure is dazzled (on the front page) to find out about Shiite mutaa marriages, where a man can legally take a wife for a few minutes, get his rocks off, and divorce her, but we all were dazzled to find that out 11 months ago [NOTW 942, 2-26-2006]. Happy to be of service.

Below The Fold
Official-style humiliation to some is urinating on their holy book; to this Japanese man, it was being forced to step on pieces of paper with made-up quotations from his dad . . . . . He makes nearly $60k a week, but he got caught in a store changing the price label on a toilet seat . . . . . A 29-yr-old man shaved his body and conned at least 2 older men into thinking he was 12 when they had sex, and the men were said to be "very upset" when cops told them he was 29 . . . . . The pricy Wagyu cattle in Western Australia already get fed the choicest grains, but now they’re getting a liter a day of Chestnut Grove 2004 cabernet merlot soaked in, which Margaret River Premium Meat Exports says can’t help but make the steaks even tastier . . . . . Brawls in the Taiwanese legislature are almost No Longer Weird, but not when the Speaker gets shoes thrown at him by Ms. Wang Shu-hui.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Chutzpah! Emmalee Bauer, 25, surely a heroine to Slacker America, spent most of 2006 at her desk working for the Sheraton hotel people in Des Moines, Iowa, doing little besides composing her personal diary on company time. Plus, the personal diary consisted largely of detailed descriptions of how she was shirking work. ("I am going to sit right here and play Elf Bowling or some other nonsense." "Accomplishment is overrated, anyway." "I am only here for the money and, lately, for the printer access.") But, finally, her good fortune ran out. Her diary was discovered. She was fired. And then, in the coup de grâce, she applied for unemployment benefits!

The six Christian denominations that share space in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre are still warring with each other over the gov’t’s demand that they put another door in the building (in that there are maybe thousands of people present at any one time but with only one door in case of emergency). Y’see, one of the six would have to give up some space to make the new exit happen, and the holy spirit of the place where Jesus was crucified and resurrected just wouldn’t allow any of them to do that. It’s been 10 yrs since the gov’t asked them nicely to work this out.

Below The Fold
NOTW has had stories of teenagers commandeering transit buses, but here are two bored kids in Nelsonville, Ohio, who took a train for a joyride . . . . . The German website Erento will rent you any of 2,200 things or services, including demonstrators for your political protest at about $190 a day . . . . . A Colorado woman’s lawyer now wants full First Amendment protection for her client’s having dropped off some dog poop at the office of U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (of whom she disapproves) . . . . . Gov. Perdue of Georgia is against the possibility of beer and wine sales on Sundays, but he says it’s just because he wants to teach Georgians how to manage their time better, i.e., get all y'all's damn shopping done on Saturday . . . . . Mistakes on TSA’s "no-fly" list include the one that occasionally gets the wife of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens pulled aside because Catherine Stevens’s nickname is "Cat," making her Yusuf Islam . . . . . Don’t you hate it when this happens—you’re out digging for worms in winter, and you get water in your boots, and it freezes, and your feet get stuck in the boot ice? . . . . . Another gov’t official who embezzled taxpayer money only to lose it in a Nigerian scam (and he’s a county treasurer!) . . . . . The marketing of cannabis-containing foods (mostly to medical-marijuana licensees) is getting pretty elaborate [link from BoingBoing.net] . . . . . A now-convicted New Hampshire federal tax-evader (who refuses to be one of the "little frogs sitting in [the] boiling water" of "fascist" America) is holed up in his home, with either "major jail time" or "The Only Way Out" in his future.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Texas Justice (cont’d): Barry Scheck’s Innocence Project got another Dallas, Tex., guy off the hook with DNA testing. Turns out that James Waller served 10 yrs for a rape that someone else got away with. His conviction (after 46 minutes’ jury deliberation) was based on . . guess what? Yep. An eyewitness! And that was even though Waller was 8 inches taller and maybe 100 pounds heavier than the eyewitness’s original description of the perp. It was Scheck’s 12th Dallas County overturn, which is more than for any jurisdiction except for the entire states of New York and Illinois. This occurred the same day that SCOTUS held oral arguments on three Texas death penalty cases, one of which involved the state’s being ever-so-chintzy in making a mandatory disclosure to jurors (that other death-penalty states make graciously) that they must consider mitigating biographical factors before condemning the killer.

Many officials in the UK gov’t must be grateful to the guys in the Dept. for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs for coming up with this one. The result is that gov’t leaders don’t have to cut back on their travel junkets at all, in spite of how much all that travel damages the environment! That’s because the folks at DEFRA figure that if they start burying rotten vegetables in Thailand (instead of just leaving them out), they’ll cut down an equivalent amount of carbon in methane. So it’s win-win, and the ruling class can get on with their perks.

Below The Fold
71 employees in the gov’t division called the Executive Office of the President are federal tax scofflaws for 2005 (owing $664k), and total deadbeats among all fed workers (including retired) number 450,000 . . . . . News guaranteed to tick off the Nat’l Org’n for Women: A chimp from the Little Rock (Ark.) Zoo escaped and, before she could be recaptured, grabbed a sponge and wiped down a refrigerator and grabbed a brush and cleaned a toilet (seriously) . . . . . Here’s a Nebraska perv who allegedly somehow got kicks by visiting an apartment house laundry room and cutting the crotches out of some panties . . . . . Daredevil swimmer Martin Strel said he’ll swim the 3,370-mile-long Amazon River, where he’ll have to brave piranhas and those little things that crawl up your urethra . . . . . Convicted child-abuser Shawn Mohan, 20, was charged with shooting his 12-day-old baby several times with a BB gun (which I’m guessing is a violation of his probation) . . . . . Shawn’s an even worse dad than Clint Engstrom, 32, who was charged with locking his 13-yr-old daughter up 22 hrs a day in a bare room for hardly-specified misbehavior [and he’s Guilty by Mugshot!] . . . . . The proprietor of Karl Kemp & Associates Antiques in New York City filed a $1 million lawsuit against, well, four unnamed vagabonds who hang out in front of his store and, he said, drive away his upscale customers . . . . . A New York City judge mysteriously ruled that if you’re experienced-enough at parachuting off of tall buildings in the middle of the city, it’s gotta be legal.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Here’s an advance in teledildonics [NOTW 887, 2-6-2005; NOTW 871, 10-17-2004] (i.e., where you and a sex partner [yeah, first you have to find a partner], insert respective devices connected by USB cable and high-speed Internet, and synchronize your movements) [from BoingBoing.net]. Another advance from last week’s Las Vegas adult electronics expo: vibrators that run from your iPod (the OhMiBod), even though, said a buyer for the Good Vibrations emporium, "Not everyone is going to want a dual-motor, harmonizing, 15-speed vibrator."

Yr Editor is unqualified, like most other Americans, to evaluate whether President Bush’s "surge" will help things or hurt things, but Yr Editor is pretty sure that the estimated price tag of regime change (and aftermath) in Iraq, which will be around $1.2 trillion, could have been a lot better spent. David Leonhardt of the NY Times presents some possibilities.

And speaking of gov’t, er, budgets, Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators castigated the Pentagon for trying so hard to recoup an extra buck or two on its F-14 Tomcat surplus parts by selling them to brokers without serious safeguards . . when the only country that still flies F-14s is (gasp!) Iran. And yes, parts got through. The Associated Press is on the story.

The Alabama Supreme Court last week (but re-reported by the NY Times within NOTW Daily’s three-day window) upheld, 5-4, the state law that prevented a guy from suing for getting leukemia from benzene in his workplace:
In a ruling that would have done Kafka proud, the court held that there was never a valid time for Mr. Cline to sue. If he had sued when he was exposed to the benzene, it would have been too early. Alabama law requires people exposed to dangerous chemicals to wait until a "manifest" injury develops. But when his leukemia developed years later, it was too late. Alabama’s statute of limitations requires that suits be brought within two years of exposure.
Below The Fold
Can’t keep dedicated criminals down, as these guys broke out of jail, stole some stuff, and brought it back to their cells in time for roll call . . . . . Raw capitalism in China: A hospital complains about a local doctor performing "preventive" care, which cuts into its revenues [Wall Street Journal $$] . . . . . Former football player viciously stabs victim, drops bloody glove at scene . . . . . If a lawyer wants to get naked with his 14-yr-old goddaughter, the courthouse is probably the worst place to do it . . . . . The U.S. is making diplomatic overtures to Iran after all, like, well, we’re sending amateur wrestlers over there for a meet . . . . . Among the world’s most challenging jobs would be Naomi Campbell’s anger-management instructor (which she got assigned to in a plea agreement for throwing a cell phone against the head of an assistant) . . . . . A rancorous (but tacky, tacky, tacky) personality clash among the Republicans on the Michigan Supreme Court . . . . . Trendiest beauty treatments in many of Singapore’s way-excessive 3,000 salons: foot exfoliation by tiny, nibbling fish, and eyebrow embroidery (pluck out your real hair, then draw in new strands with a tattoo-like ink pen).

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Technology helped get us into this mess; technology can help get us out (continued): In Australia, people are placing faith, for religious healing, in the burqa swimsuit. It’s just a slightly-loose Lycra body suit with a hair covering, but apparently lots of Muslim women are embracing it as a way to better assimilate into the Australian water life, and the manufacturers dream of the day when we Anglo Christians are so petrified of the sun that we’ll be wearing them, too.

Updates
Yr Editor has been informed that a character from this week’s NOTW—the sheriff who shamelessly loves to golf during work hours—was actually defeated for re-election in November.
That massive Hindu gathering along the wretchedly polluted Ganges River [NOTW Daily, 1-9-2007] has another element: the lost-and-found tent. Apparently, hundreds of people find the teeming, mulling millions a great place to dump the kids and parents they no longer want to fool with.

Below The Fold
A woman who recalls being taunted as "witch spawn" in 1944 has begun a campaign to pardon her granny, Britain’s last convicted witch . . . . . The Michigan Court of Appeals said the slam-dunk language of state law turns any adultery into a serious sex assault case (against the man) . . . . . Is there a diagnosis scarier than, er, "brain worms" (which is what a Texas man got, probably from not washing his hands after wiping his orenthal)? . . . . . The Connecticut Supreme Court has agreed to decide (for all of us, at last!) whether "I overslept" is an acceptable excuse (i.e., constitutes "willful" conduct) . . . . . America’s infatuation with guns is bad, all right, but still, there’s something a little pussified about these tough gangbangers in Glasgow settling their differences with Samurai swords . . . . . "Get a job," his mom said ("Build a new house," he said, flicking his cigarette lighter) . . . . . "My baby’s missing," the Texas mom said, and she really wishes she could recall what she did with him, with "gave him to two strangers at some highway rest stop" the best she could remember . . . . . One charge has been filed against a parent in that Snohomish, Wash., episode in which a kid got his leg almost blown off by a football game ceremonial cannon, and then school boosters kept trying to intimidate him not to say anything that would doom the cannon ritual . . . . . British tattoo artist Blane Dickinson is looking for someone on whose head he can ink his dream tat of a big ham-and-eggs breakfast, with knife and fork behind each ear, and who among us doubts that an attention-deprived guy will soon come forward?

Monday, January 15, 2007

People with Too Much Money: All right . . pet cremations? OK. $3,700 for emergency gastrotomy surgery when your dog swallows a stone? Well, OK. But Mr. A.R. LaMura’s $100k-plus mausoleum for Sandy, the mixed-breed terrier at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery? No. The pet burial-service industry is $150m/yr and growing, and the deluxe boneyards now have "paw bearers" and animals on premises to console the mourners.

Pentecostals on the Rise: The NY Times tells us there are 400 million worldwide speaking in tongues, including 850,000 in New York City! The Internet’s supposed to be this big thing to find information on, but I can’t find a Pentecostal dictionary to see what Ms. Lucrecia Perez meant by "omshalamamom" and "shambalashalama." Anyone know John Ashcroft’s e-mail address?

An Associated Press report on collectors of sneakers (including some at the Imelda-Marcos level) notes that serious fanatics always buy multiple pairs for when one pair gets scuffed. "The (sneaker) scene is on fire," said one guy. "You can tell so much about a person by what they have on their feet. You might not have the freshest outfit, but if you have the kicks, you are going to get the respect."

Recurring Themes—Plus: She went off and left her kid at home by himself for two days (right after his surgery), but, hey, she had to, because she had Nat’l Guard training . . . . . He was dead four days in his home [Hell, Chuck, we’ve had guys dead four years!], but this guy lived in an apartment house, and he died in the shower with the water running.

Update
The current News of the Weird column notes that an Adelaide, Australia, model let her kid drown while she attended to a cell phone call, but my original source did not have her name. Apparently, it was reported in several other sources as Kerry Lucas.

Inside NOTW
By the way, the current column, dated January 14, 2007, marks 988 consecutive weeks of newshounding, and among the factors in 988 are "52 and 19," which means Yr Editor started to work this morning on Year 20. Yr Editor is as surprised as anyone.

Editor’s Obsessions
So District Att’y Nifong has recused himself from the Duke lacrosse case. If this goes according to script, the new prosecutor will drop the case as soon as he’s looked at all the evidence (more of which favors the defendants than the state) and interviewed the victim (thus allowing her to present yet another version of the night in question). Nifong’s quitting the case is billed in the press and the bar as an embarrassment for him, but Yr Editor says that’s not good enough. I say, rack him up; make him listen to Metallica for 24 hrs straight; bring in Lindy England to look after him; shred the Quran right in front of—oops, got carried away. I say give him the foulest abuse in Durham: Give him a striped shirt and a whistle and have him make a bad call against Duke while standing in front of potty-mouthed Coach K.

Below The Fold
Arrested on "suspicion" of knocking over coin-operated washing machines at an apartment complex: two men with 75,000 quarters in their van [scroll down] . . . . . An assault victim, with his car key embedded in his skull . . . . . The price of casino mogul Steve Wynn’s thumbhole in that $139m Picasso last September: $54m, which Lloyd’s of London is having a problem with . . . . . A contestant in a Sacramento radio station’s "hold your bladder" game died of, well, water intoxication . . . . . British woman learns the hard way never to insult a dentist while you’re sittin’ in the chair . . . . . The lesser heirs of a wealthy Portuguese man with no children discovered that he left his fortune to 70 strangers he picked at random from a phone book . . . . . Lame: An out-of-state deputy was traffic-stopped in Georgia with $950k, which he said he "found" in the trash behind a Hooters in Atlanta (which explains why he had stuffed it in the car’s doors) . . . . . The BBC is planning a TV documentary tentatively titled "I Love the C Word" . . . . . 19 percent of college students said we honor Martin Luther King because he’s the man who ended slavery.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Jennalee Ryan Eliminates the Middleman—and Middlewoman—in Procreation: The San Antonio woman has started the world’s first not-sperm bank/not-egg bank, but already-fertilized embryo bank. It seems a significant drop down the ol’ slippery slope that ends in designer babies, but she says it was just the next logical step. You pay $5k per embryo (with a free backup), which are catalogued as to the respective donors’ characteristics, and you’re your own surrogate mother. Right now, it’s a home-based business for Ryan (though she apparently could stand to hire an outside press person, after being quoted in a sum-up: "Who wants an ugly, stupid kid?"). Religious fundies who heard the news are expected to comment on it, as soon as the smelling salts takes effect. It’s all over the wires this week, but here’s an earlier Washington Post report.

"You are not a cannibal if you eat art," says Chilean artist Marco Evaristti, so, my friends, enjoy these meatballs I fixed for you, which were fried in my own (liposuctioned) body fat. "The question of whether or not to eat human flesh is more important than the result."

A British professor is worried that genetic modification types are considering, for instance, how to breed out the stress and aggressiveness in pigs so that those intelligent animals won’t have a clue that the end is near. Apparently, they’re nothing but trouble right now, in farms and slaughterhouses. And North Korea has supposedly contacted a German rabbit breeder who specializes in creating jumbo bunnies, saying we sho’ are hungry over here and could you help us breed fat rabbits, too?

Below The Fold
Former FEMA deputy director Patrick Rhode (of the "putting mousse in my hair" e-mail exchange with Heckuvajob Brownie just after Katrina hit N’awlins) has been hired high up at NASA . . . . . Ms. Hanadi Zakarlya Hindi, 26, finished training and has become a pilot for one of those Saudi billionaire princes, and now she just needs to find a male relative to drive her to and from the airport . . . . . Apparently, Jharkhand state in India hands out get-out-of-jail letters to famous people (actually, special-treatment letters) to show when approached by cops . . . . . Daniel Brown, 22, put a mask on to rob his grandfather, y’know, so grandpappy wouldn’t suspect him, but then Daniel barked, "This is a robbery. I need your money, and I mean it, Pa-paw" (but that still didn’t stop Daniel from later denying that he was the guy behind the mask).

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bad Day at Morgues: A construction worker apparently fell 4 floors to his death at a job site, er, naked . . . . . It looks like Keith Lord Snyder, 55, took The Only Way Out in the midst of his trial over his hobby of photographing seminude youngsters . . . . . A 33-yr-old man in Oakland, Calif., was gunned down after he parked in someone else’s reserved space . . . . . David James Brooks Jr, 62, is still alive, after being shot twice for having an opinion about the height of the late James Brown that challenged Dan Gulley’s opinion . . . . . And in what Yr Editor reluctantly acknowledges is probably a crime, a couple in Erba, Italy, were arrested for killing a family long regarded as excessively noisy.

Below The Fold
Math wasn’t coming easy to the 40-yr-old GED student (by the way, with 27 arrests under her belt), so, naturally, she stabbed her teacher . . . . . Adam Fizer, 24, who got off with probation on an attempted-theft charge, was captured on courthouse surveillance video minutes later, stealing signs off a wall . . . . . Kwok Wah-cheong pleaded guilty in Hong Kong to hiring 4 people to allow themselves to be surgically blinded so Kwok could pull accident-insurance scams (2 of the 4 actually went through with it) . . . . . The four 17-yr-olds who were arrested in a crime spree in Monroe, La., famously call themselves "the duck mafia" (although neither police nor press knows why) [Link from Rotten.com] . . . . . A British Columbia parent blasted her kids’ school’s yoga class: "There’s God, and there’s the devil, and the devil’s not a gentleman. If you give him any kind of an opening, he will take it" . . . . . Too Much Information: A zoo in Devon, England, has set up several 24-hour webcams trained on a black rhinoceros about to give birth (apparently hoping for some quasi-gyno shots) . . . . . And the San Bernardino Sun reports gritty testimony from an undercover investigator on contract to the county, trying to gather evidence on prostitution at a strip club and who, well, didn’t stop when he should have: "I didn’t have time to clear my head. I was aroused. I was waiting for the cavalry to come over the hill."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Can’t possibly true (and maybe it’s not ‘cause Yr Editor doesn’t understand this at all): Man breaks into woman’s house, puts on her clothes, and chokes the turkey on her bed. And according to the BBC News story, "David Pickup, for the prosecution, said he could not find an offense for the case to proceed" (in that burglary was out, since the man never tried to steal anything). Prosecutors want to leave the guy with an ASBO (anti-social behavior order, which is sort of like a traffic ticket that says, "Now stop that!"). Fine, as "prosecutorial discretion." But to claim that there’s no other way to prosecute him? [Of course, in Texas, the resident could have legally shot the masturbateur dead, no questions asked.]

Uphill defense: Accused abortion murderer James Kopp’s federal trial opened in Buffalo, with Kopp telling the doctor’s widow, "Mrs. Slepian, I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I respect you and your family." It’s just that, well, he missed the shot. He intended only to wing Dr. Slepian so he’d stop those abortions, but, what do you know, he killed him. (Kopp was already convicted of the murder under state law, and also by a Law & Order jury; this is a separate federal charge of interfering with an abortion clinic.)

Given Chicago’s rich history, this dilemma probably looks fresh only to Yr Editor and not to long-time Machine-watchers: If an alderman (say, Arenda Troutman) takes your bribe money to grease through your public works project for her district, but the project is actually on the other side of the street, and therefore technically in another district beyond her influence, is it then an illegal bribe?

Below The Fold
Prozac for anxious cats! (And it works quite well, but what about cat postpartum depression? Or dissociative-identity disorder, where cats also think they’re dogs or snakes?) . . . . . A 71-yr-old Brit labored three yrs to make a 4-ft-high replica of St. Paul’s Cathedral—out of fruitcake . . . . . Tyrone Black, 44, was arrested in Des Moines, Iowa, obviously ready to cook fried chicken because the store owner caught the alleged shoplifter with pockets full of chicken and lard . . . . . India itself is anti-growth, but the Khasi tribe in the state of Meghalaya has seen its numbers dwindle and thus recently started handing out cash grants to mothers of 15 or more [Fark.com headline: "Indian district paying women to turn their vaginas into clown cars"] . . . . . Dorit Baxter spa in New York City introduces a $59, half-hour thumb massage for overcommitted text-messagers . . . . . In a Sunni-Muslim region of India’s Bihar state, at least 100 babies have been born since the first Gulf War with the name Saddam Hussein . . . . . Well, of course it’s the law that a disabled high school student can have a service dog in class (but wait, he’s only deaf, so . .) . . . . . A Massachusetts community college student accidentally handed in a CD with child porn instead of a CD with his class assignment (bonus: When he tried to get it back with a note to the professor, he began it [and I quote], "Oh snap, I am sorry").

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Below The Fold
Proof once again that the only really clever criminals are the smugglers, as a schoolteacher tried to sneak her prisoner-husband 2½ grams of heroin and a scalpel, inside her tampon . . . . . Now in its 15th yr, a weekly, 4-hr Buenos Aires radio program run by poco locos at the Jose Borda Neuropsychiatric Hospital . . . . . A semi-finalist for 2007 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year resigned after allegedly running a student New Year’s party that had booze . . . . . Least competent editorial board: Chicago Tribune editors ask why we need to put so many people in prison, seeing as how the crime rate is so low . . . . . A big-rig driver collided with another, disembarked, grabbed a baseball bat and went nuts on the inventory at a liquor store, and when subdued by three passersby, dropped dead . . . . . The school board in Richmond, Va., fired high school teacher Stephen Murmer (the guy whose avocation is painting with his butt) . . . . . A girls’ high school in Japan announced that its entrance exam will include a test of chopstick skills . . . . . Portuguese civil servants discover they’re entitled to the equivalent of about 36 cents a mile if they have to walk somewhere on the job . . . . . A repairman was trapped for 20 minutes inside an industrial washing machine, waist-deep in hot water and entangled in clothes . . . . . The Lord told the San Mateo, Calif., woman to paint God-rulz-type messages all over her house, and city ordinances be damned . . . . . Fine Point of the Law: On trial for smoking a joint in public, you apparently cannot bring a marijuana plant past the security desk at the courthouse to use as a defense exhibit . . . . . Classic "burying the lede": Report says San Francisco has the highest percentage of recreational drug users of any big city (12.7 percent); buried lede: 87.3 percent of San Franciscans don’t (which is right up there with "87.3 percent of bears use toilets").

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

John Gilmore, once a prominent cyberlander and now mainly a libertarian dilettante, for some reason believes Americans, notwithstanding 9-11, insufficiently appreciate their solemn right to ride on airliners in which passengers' picture IDs and ticketed names are not matched at the gate. He ostensibly reached the end of his five-year battle yesterday when SCOTUS declined to hear his petition demanding to know the origin of such an outrageous rule.

Clichés Come to Life: The NY Post’s analysis of the especially foul air in New York City yesterday [no, not that foul air; some other foul air that was even worse; no, not that air, either; something even worse than that] concluded that it came from a bog in New Jersey. On another front, a state senator proposed yesterday to amend the New Jersey constitution to remove that obnoxious wording denying suffrage to "idiots."

It’s a little old for my standards on this page, but anyway, TheSmokingGun.com last Friday released papers on a lawsuit by William Davis, 75, challenging the Murfreesboro, Tenn., police for confiscating his collection of 114 frozen cat carcasses, which he was storing in anticipation of someday establishing a pet cemetery. Even stranger: Davis found an actual lawyer to take the case.

Updates
The NY Post now says the identity-theft student at Columbia Univ. [NOTW Daily, 1-8-2007] was not a graduate student but just General Studies.
The largest religious pilgrimage on the planet is not Hajj, of course, but Hindus doing their annual bathing in the Ganges River, which inspires stories every year about how filthy it is (raw sewage, worsened by sacrificial animal half-carcasses tossed into the holy sludge). It also inspires periodic stories about major efforts to clean the water. And now, after a decade of hard work, the conclusion is: It’s more polluted than ever.

Below The Fold
If you’re up to no good and want a place where you can make your own laws, buy the principality of Sealand, off Britain’s coast (the owner/prince is selling) . . . . . He rammed her car 15 times after she pulled away because she had left the party without giving him "my good-night kiss" (extra goodie: He rammed the wrong car) . . . . . Well, of course we’d come up with that: a drug to treat hypochondria! . . . . . Big-time NY tobacco industry lawyer Francis Decker Jr., who has earned millions in his career, admitted that he hasn’t filed state and local tax returns since 1982 (extra goodie: His jail time will be, er, 45 days).

Monday, January 08, 2007

The right-wing bloggers are a little ahead of themselves on this one because apparently it’s just something scheduled to be considered by the Mexican gov’t, in March or so: handing out satellite-tracking devices to border-jumpers in case they get sick or injured in their illegal traipse into the U.S.A. (Of course, if they get sick or injured after crossing, well, U.S. rescuers still have to come get ‘em, an idea that may only go so far.)

A 73-yr-old man died of a heart attack in London, and although a paramedic arrived right away, when he called for an ambulance, it took a while, in that the two closest crews (5 minutes away) were on a mandatory European Union-dictated rest period and could not be disturbed at all during the first 20 of their 30 minutes. Some services in the UK have opted out of the EU rules, but not the London Ambulance Service.

God’s Will (cont’d): A 52-yr-old man, his sister, 56, and their mother, 78, were recluses in southern Illinois and took all their worldly instruction from the Good Book, apparently. Three yrs ago, they had concluded that the Lord didn’t want them to talk anymore, so they stopped. According to preliminary reports on the deaths last week of son and mother (and hospitalization of sister), they had recently concluded that the Lord didn’t want them to eat anymore, either. Said a neighbor, "They weren’t kooks. They just had great faith in God . . .."

There was a family feud in Sydney, Australia, over something or other that wasn’t disclosed, but 60 people were involved, and 19 have been arrested so far, and though one of the participants had a gun, the others had "knives, baseball bats, metal poles, planks, branches, cricket bats, pick handles, screw drivers, golf clubs, curtain rods, and glass bottles," according to the Daily Telegraph, and also hammers and machetes.

CalTech won its first NCAA basketball game since 1996, beating the Bard College, er, Shakespearians, or whatever they’re called. They’re now 1-207 in their last 208 games. Explaining his team’s struggles this year, Coach Roy Dow said, seriously, "We lost a lot of players from last year’s team."

False-Identity Follies: (1) Buffalo, N.Y., was buzzing about the murder of a 22-yr-old man in a love triangle with a man, 47, and a woman, in her 40s, because the latter two were pretending online to be younger and more dazzling humans, and according to police, the older man got jealous when the younger man flirted with the woman, and of course the woman they were actually enamored of never existed. (2) And then, as the NY Post ratted out a graduate student at Columbia Univ. who had simply stolen the identity of a dead person and worked toward a degree, Columbia officials refused to divulge info about the student, citing, of course, federal privacy protections . . . for a person who is actually dead.

Errorors
OK, get ready for a good laugh. In the current column . . . oh, I can’t go on with this because it’s too embarrassing. Forget it. . . . No, I have to. . . . No, wait, maybe I don’t because there are just a couple of readers who would know the difference. So, forget it. . . . No, I can’t ignore it. Duty requires that I note my error. The sheriff’s court in Scotland that issued the ruling—, no, I can’t do it. . . . OK, OK, the sheriff’s court is located in the town of Greenock, not Greencock. Oh, man, am I ever sorry about that. And I have no idea what possessed me to misread that name.

Below The Fold
It looks like a punk-out job by leaders of the tony Columbus, Ohio, neighborhood of German Village: Install surveillance cameras but don’t tell anyone they’re just boxes with cords plugged into nothing . . . . . He climbed atop a 68-ft tower in protest of the unbearable oppression of being required to join a homeowners’ ass’n . . . . . The District of Calamity Council passed a bill, 10-2, to treat "released prisoners" as a protected class of citizens under the District’s Human Rights Act (of more-or-less equal status with victims of race discrimination, etc.), but it’ll have to pass it again because the outgoing mayor vetoed it . . . . . Here’s this yr’s list of the 12 Most Bizarre [political-correctness-gone-wild] College Courses, led by Occidental College’s "The Phallus," "a seminar in critical theory and social justice," which, prorated from yearly tuition, costs $3,300 to take (and while at Occidental, be sure to take the course "Blackness," though you’ll need the course "Whiteness" as a prerequisite).

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Students challenge a school’s iron-hand authority to keep them from wearing their favorite (non-obscene, non-political) t-shirts to class, and they take the case all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals! It’s a heartwarming defense of free-speech rights! Well, no. They’re brats. They’re middle-school students who are "gifted" and wanted to wear t-shirts that let everyone know that.

Tough day for British bureaucrats: First came word of a gov’t (Revenue and Customs) pilot project that tells bureaucrats to mark their desks with tape to show just exactly where certain things should be placed so that they won’t waste time looking for them. Then came word that the police in Manchester had finally, after two months’ resistance, released photographs of the two murderers who had escaped from prison, in that police "guidelines" say it violates "human rights" to release the photos without a strong "local policing purpose," which allegedly was absent in that the murderers were presumed to have fled the local area.

Editor’s Obsessions
The Univ. of Alabama’s hiring Nick Saban to coach football for $4m a yr, 7x what the UA president makes (in a state that is 45th in the country in education spending), is still nowhere on the scale of what Home Depot's board of directors did [NOTW Daily, 1-4-2007]. In fact, if Saban is successful, he’ll be worth every penny in additional university football revenue and alumni spending. (And if he’s unsuccessful, there’s a way out: In November, Florida State fans, er, rich fans, supposedly paid an alleged failure of an assistant coach $537k to get out of town fast, and he did. No university money.)

Below The Fold
A 41-yr-old man died when a roof fell on him, which sounds tragic, except that the reason the roof fell was that he was apparently trying to steal the roof’s iron supports for scrap metal . . . . . Man who uses different Operating System than us (if the Arizona Republic story is accurate enough): He breaks in and steals a pair of panties, and then when the residents arrive, he greets them at the door by handing them a package of his drugs and walking away . . . . . Questionable judgment: You wrap boas around your neck, but not boa constrictors (even though it was just a baby boa that shoplifters were trying to get out of a pet store underneath a scarf, and even though they ultimately blew the caper by returning to ask how to take care of their boa) . . . . . Nat’l Guard troops ("observers") working with the Border Patrol were run off by some armed Mexicans, and the Guard couldn’t do a thing about it (in that a lot of cooks and farmworkers would get annoyed and protest) . . . . . Guilty By Mugshot (but she pleaded anyway) . . . . . One pending benefit of global warming is that lakes will dry up, and we can find what people have tried to hide, like guns . . . . . Kenmore, Wash., pervert Carlos Calcagni told police that, yes, he took secret pictures of girls tinkling, but he deserves a partial pass on them because he was disappointed that they didn’t much excite him.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Cooool! The soon-to-be-born kid of Glen and Rebekah Markham in N’Awlins might be the first birth from one of the rescued frozen embryos that had to be plucked from a Hurricane Katrina flood 16 months ago, and what a legacy the kid’ll have! Lakeland Hospital protected the embryos pretty well at the time, but the rescue was difficult, and made just in time to avoid thawing, and unlike the superficially anonymous little specks we normally think of as embryos, this kid will have a real backstory.

Extraterrestrials are apparently getting stupid: After decades of hovering in America only in rural areas within sight of downscale witnesses, a UFO (paranormals’ terminology upgrade here: UAP, which is Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) was spotted over Gate C17 at Chicago’s O’Hare in November, witnessed by about a dozen United employees, including a couple of pilots. Word didn’t get out until last week because, of course, gov’t agencies and the control tower said, Nothing to see here.

Speaking of N’Awlins, a Washington Post report quotes nonpolitical authorities in the area, warning that the city is doing the very same damn thing it did before Katrina, which is build promiscuously and indiscriminately (with gov’t dollars) in the most flood-risky areas. The political authorities, on the other hand (notably, Mayor Nagin), tell the citizens, Scratch that itchy scab, Build wherever the hell you want to call home (and keep voting for us if you like it like that).

How to make $7,500 a day: Bryn Mawr student Janet Lee made her own anti-stress squeeze thingees, consisting of condoms filled with flour. According to her, she didn’t know that cocaine smugglers use condoms [aren’t Bryn Mawr kids supposed to be smarter than that?] so she never thought twice about taking her thingees through airport security. Well, she got held in Philadelphia as a smuggler for 21 days before being released (because, well, labs only work fast on TV). Latest: She just settled her lawsuit against the city for $160k, or $7,619 a day.

Below The Fold
Another kid’s copycat Saddam-hanging (to go with the one in Pakistan reported here [1-3-2007]), in Webster, Tex., near Houston . . . . . An Aussie, enraged over mistreatment of an insurance claim, walked into a Commonwealth Bank in Innisfail (near Cairns) and threatened people with a deadly, deadly, uh, piece of asbestos . . . . . The dynamism of the free market: Mannequin manufacturers are making women with bigger breasts (which, by the way, won’t do mannequin-fetishist Ronald Dotson much good because if he’s convicted on his latest arrest, he’ll do a major stretch as a habitual offender).

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Yet another thing for people to argue about: Ashley, age 9, in Seattle, has static encephalopathy, which means she can’t talk or walk or keep her head up, or sit up or roll over or eat by herself. But she would probably continue to grow, except that her parents have chosen to aggressively stunt that growth (hysterectomy, breast-growth surgery, high doses of estrogen), which will keep her height and weight what they are now, for the rest of her life (so they can more easily pick her up and carry her around with them, etc.). ("Oh, God, that’s just awful!") ("No, it’s not; it’s humane, and she’s better off!") ("No, it strips her of her dignity.") (No, it doesn’t.) (Yes, it does.) (Does not.) (Does, too.) (Does not.)

India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, speaking at a science conference in Tamil Nadu, castigated the West for our "environmentally wasteful lifestyle," which is certainly a valid complaint, except made a little less effective by the fact that, on the same day, six bazillion more people were born in India.

Editor’s Obsessions
The absolute-weirdest news of the recent past appeared yesterday, not in any of the dozens [sigh!] of weird-news columns but, in many places on the front page. The CEO of Home Depot was leaf-blowered out of a job, which was understandable given the number of the company’s stakeholders and stockholders he has enraged since taking over in 2000, but with $210,000,000 as a going-away present. All but about $20k of that was handed to him not yesterday, but in 2000, when he grabbed his ankles, and the all-puckering board of directors lined up to give him rim jobs by approving his eventual end-game contract demands. (But then, what was the point of giving him $20m more yesterday, except chickenanity?) Incentive pay for succeeding; incentive pay for failing. Heads I win, tails I win. The CEO, Robert Nardelli, may genuinely be a jerk, but the problem with executive payouts is super-toadying boards of directors. Lazy, effete, insecure, and horribly overrated in business acumen. So, did anything weirder happen in America yesterday than that a probable-failure-of-a (or at best, mediocre) chief executive was rewarded in the amount of $210 million? [Now, if you go on to earn $100,000 this year, Nardelli just made two thousand one hundred times more than you will, and he's sitting on his keister for the rest of the year.] And here's my Backstage entry on Nardelli from 5-29-2006:
It wasn’t a kangaroo "court"; it was only a kangaroo board of directors’ meeting. Those things (for public companies) always go down via a highly scripted monologue by the chairman, with any stockholders’ complaints pre-marginalized, resulting in the directors getting an earful, and that’s that. However, last Thursday’s meeting of the Home Depot board, was apparently a masterpiece of kangarooness. Backfact: CEO Robert Nardelli has made almost $250m in 5 yrs despite Home Depot’s declining stock price and the surging of its main competitor Lowe’s, and that might be because, reported the NY Times on Wednesday, the board’s compensation committee is saturated with Nardelli’s buds. Anyway, according to Times columnist Joe Nocera, the board didn’t even get the earful because no player was here except Nardelli. One question per complainer. One minute per question. Enforced by goons in Home Depot aprons. No comment on any of it, and then, bye-bye!
Below The Fold
First, thieves came for the broccoli [Backstage, 12-29-2006], and then, when no one stopped them, they came for the asparagus . . . . . Two East Palo Alto, Calif., women were fighting when two teenage boys (with guns!) stepped in to defend them, and shot at each other, but they accidentally hit the women, instead (one died) . . . . . The 7th-biggest tax delinquent in the state of Wisconsin is Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Rollie Fingers ($1.433m) . . . . . Dangerous combination: The F State plus 6-year-old boy plus front-end loader [at link, scroll down].

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A fourth of the American people think it’s "at least somewhat likely" that Jesus will return to Earth in 2007 (46% of white evangelical Christians believe that), according to an AP poll. Pat Robertson is absolutely certain of a mass-murder terrorist attack on the U.S. in 2007, in that God Himself told Pat that at a prayer retreat, and God is absolutely against lying (see Commandment IX). (On the other hand, Pat said that God also told him, last year, that storms would rip the U.S. coastline [a perfectly safe prediction at the time], but it turns out that God was just playin’ Pat, in that He turned on that weak El Niño thing and screwed Pat up good.)

In other God-related news, the family of the late brother of Ohio evangelist Darlene Bishop is suing their aunt/sister-in-law because of her highly-publicized (by her) claims that she had healed him, through prayer, of his throat cancer (thus encouraging him, the family said, not to seek full medical treatment). (Either her powers never worked, or maybe they worked for a while but she got overextended at some point, but in any event, the brother died of throat cancer.)

Canadian researchers made this point, but it’s surely more applicable in the U.S.: It’s only January 3rd, but already most big corporate CEO’s have earned more money in 2007 than you’ll earn in 2007. America and Canada are damn lucky to have such superior people.

Update
The official Hajj this yr is over, with no stoning/crowding deaths, attributable by some to infrastructure improvements in Mecca (improvements which, given the professed need to replicate ancient rituals, seem to Yr Editor vaguely like cheating).

Your Daily Loser
Nancy Dyer, 33, Indianapolis. When informed that her 3-yr-old Damon had been rescued along Interstate 465 clad only in diaper and t-shirt, she apparently shrugged and said to the trooper, "Oh, he got out again." The trooper braved the filthy apartment, with Damon’s 2-yr-old sister eating spaghetti off the floor, and arrested Nancy.

Below The Fold
In South Carolina last yr: Almost 33% of the 122 pedestrian deaths came from people lying down in the road (100.0% of whom were of course shitfaced) . . . . . Saddam’s death is already reverberating, as a 9-yr-old in Pakistan accidentally hanged himself trying to imitate the gallows video . . . . . The apparently-severely-intellectually-challenged Flurisha Cooper, 21, was hospitalized in Chicago for intoxication after a game of Trivial Pursuits (Current Events edition) at which wrong answers required a swig of brandy and a hit of dope . . . . . A Univ. of Minnesota cancer researcher discovers that, in a pinch, smokers could just smoke their toenails . . . . . Awesome: An expectant mother checked into New England Medical Center on New Year’s eve and created little tax exemptions for both 2006 and 2007! . . . . . Rescue workers in South Africa labored 11 hours to free a rather obese woman who entered the Cango Caves attraction but couldn’t squeeze back out (thus trapping 23 visitors behind her) . . . . . Vultures are rapidly approaching extinction around Mumbai, which is a very, very, very bad thing for Zoroastrians, who aren’t allowed to bury their dead but must let natural forces take the corpses, and without vultures, decomp is a slooooow and ugly process . . . . . Who would have thought: Starwood Hotels & Resorts (Westin, Sheraton, etc.) says it has received 8,500 applications so far for its newly-created position of chief beer officer [Wall Street Journal, $].

Monday, January 01, 2007

Apple Digs Itself a Hole: The company said Steve Jobs simultaneously (a) helped pick favorable [back]dates for his lucrative stock options during 1997-2002 but (b) did nothing improper, despite the fact that the company has admitted that $84 million during that time frame was improperly reported to shareholders and the SEC. Maybe Jobs is looking for Pixar to come up with something that’ll make the whole thing disappear from the SEC’s screens. (And speaking of Pixar, when Jobs was chairman, stock options were [back]dated, conveniently, lucratively, at a certain official board meeting, with proper paperwork and everything, that now is known not to have taken place at all.) [The go-to source on all this is the Wall Street Journal, 12-30-06, whose website is normally pay-per-view, but everyone in the world can access it for free tomorrow, January 2.]

Sounds Like a Joke: A study of 200,000 European women found not only that exercise helps ward off breast cancer but that housework-type exercise is better at warding it off than regular exercise. [Next? Nat’l Safety Council study finds it far more hazardous for motorists to stop and ask directions than just to drive on.] Mainstream academics did the study, and it was funded by anti-cancer money, so it looks OK at first blush. But Yr Editor smells some severe over- or under-disaggregation of variables.

Sounds Like a Fraternity Joke: At England’s Sea Life Centre, a Christmas treat of Brussels sprouts for the turtles gave them gas, creating (as we all know) bubbles, which raised the water level enough to set off emergency sensors.

People Whose Sex Lives Are a Complete Mess (cont’d): Nicolas Leathers, 23, in Augusta, Maine, takes not only women’s underwear but tampons and maxipads, and he’s already on probation for throwing a summer camp mattress into a river because he didn’t want anyone to know that he had masturbated on it.

Inexplicable: Mr. Sudan Provost, 40, intended to rob the River City Bank in Sacramento, Calif., in that he had a holdup note and threatened to use his gun and said not to mess with him because "I do this for a living." That was before he innocently opened his bag to reveal no gun and before he asked the clerk for a tissue because he had the sniffles and before he just turned and walked out of the bank without money and before he wandered back into the bank a while later while police were there conducting interviews.

Recent Buried Ledes: The Mirror (London) piece was about Electrolux’s new Dustmate, a battery-operated, sensored pair of shoes with which you can vacuum as you walk, but the real news: Even before this, 28 percent of Brits vacuum daily . . . . . The Des Moines Register piece was about how Iowa public health law bars patients from taking home from the doctor’s their amputated body parts, but the real news: The 85-year-old woman who thus has to give up her infected toe is Ms. Gladys Goose.

Housekeeping
As previously announced, off tomorrow and back to daily posting on Wednesday (daily except Sundays, that is) . . . . . And yes, I changed the title and format of this page. No big deal except this: From now on, I do not have a "blog." I have a daily column. It’s not a blog. It’s not a blog, I tell you! It’s a daily supplement to the weekly News of the Weird!

Below The Fold
We recently saw a Washington-state-bound teenage girl mistakenly book a flight to Washington, D.C., but here’s an adult bound for Sydney, Australia, booked into Sidney, Montana (answer to your question: you take a commuter flight from Billings) . . . . . Tacky: Wanted on a child-support warrant, he nonetheless tried to stick an extra hotdog in his bun at the convenience store and hide it from the clerk with excess condiments . . . . . North Carolina’s "malicious castration" law surfaces again (and here’s the mug shot of the perp, who, in all likelihood, probably just ripped skin off and not the actuals) . . . . . Adult brother, tired of adult sister’s belittling him about every little thing (however appropriate it might have been) took an ax and gave her 5 whacks, in the head, and he said he stopped only because the ax got stuck in her skull . . . . . From the Star Tribune (Minneapolis): "Opera That Depicts Bush, Blair [and Chirac and Putin, by the way] Dancing in Underwear Is Canceled" . . . . . Yr Editor is usually skeptical of reports of people swallowing spoons, but here’s a well-done story and, of course, the x-ray . . . . . On the first day of Islam’s Eid al-Adha animal sacrifice-feast, Turkey’s ER’s were jammed with 1,400 accidental self-stabbings by the amateur butchers (and four injuries that occurred when the victims fell over on the killers) . . . . . New status symbol for the rich in China’s super-capitalism region: wet nurses for their babies (good pay for young, beautiful, Ming-dynasty-poetry-reciting women with "superior breasts") . . . . . Texas judge Keith Dean, defeated for re-election in November, has finally, 16 yrs late, backed down on his life sentence to Tyrone Brown for smoking marijuana during his probation (after the judge had been shamed for turning the other cheek to a murderer on probation who tested positive several times for cocaine) . . . . . Mr. Kouadio Kouassi was finally booted out of the clerk's office after several relentless attempts to file a (completely baseless) ownership claim for the upscale SoHo Grand Hotel in New York City. (Seriously. Just walked in and filed the papers.)