Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Can’t Possibly Be True: Mount Diablo High School in Concord, Calif., apparently thinking outside the box to get its state test scores up, held four pep rallies: one each for whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. ("What up, white people!" kicked off one session.) The principal said she’d rather appeal to racial pride (to raise your "team"'s score) this way than expose pride defensively in the face of intergroup taunts over scores. Mount Diablo apparently did this last yr and got improvements ranging from whites’ 46 points to Hispanics’ 80.

The F State
Steve Stanton, the long-time, highly-regarded city manager in Largo (pop., 70,000, located between St. Petersburg and Clearwater), announced last week that he intended to become Susan Stanton (in dress and hormones, with body restructuring down the road). Yesterday, the wise and courageous city commissioners voted 5-2 to fire the degenerate little creep. Said Stanton, "It’s just real painful to know that seven days ago I was a good guy, and now I have no integrity, I have no trust, and most painful, I have no followers." Said pastor Ron Sanders, "If Jesus was here tonight, I can guarantee you he’d want him terminated. Make no mistake about it."

Update
Here’s a better photo than I had before of the home of Estrella Benavides [NOTW 994, this week], the woman getting signals from the Lord that she just has to paint on the roof of her house.

Editor’s Obsessions
Results of an academic team’s survey cannonballed into the news pool yesterday, concluding that today’s college students are particularly narcissistic, a new "Me Generation." Now, nobody relishes taking on egocentrics more than Yr Editor, but clearly the most significant thing about this "survey" is that it’s lighter than air, that the data don’t nearly justify the conclusions of the media reporting them. Yr Editor sez it’s one more instance of reporters’ and editors’ either not caring whether they report carefully or not being smart enough to figure out that they’re overreporting. Dig: (1) The result after interviewing 16,000 college students is that in this year (2005), versus 1982, 15 people out of every 100 gave more confident answers to stupid hypothetical questions. That’s it. Boom! A narcissistic bombshell! (2) There are several reasons why people might more confidently respond to crap like "I think I’m a special person"; or "I like to be the center of attention"; or "If I ruled the world, it would be a better place." Why assume a grand societal shift in what is being described as a personality near-disorder? (3) The media, in their never-ending quest to tell their consumers what something "really" means, then launch into example after example of the reporter’s pet sociocultural observations that confirm the academic thesis: too much "self-esteem" teaching in school; the celebrity culture; reality TV shows; concern about financial security. (4) Then the reporter interviews a few students who agree with the thesis, with each quotee pointing out that he or she personally knows some raving egomaniac. Voila! Validation! (Yr Editor’s broader point: Nearly every study or survey you read about in the newspapers, no matter how prestigious the academic imprimatur, is either much less important and clarifying than the media’s characterization or stands solidly for some less-prominent point yet weakly for the more-headline-worthy point.)

Below The Fold
Long ago, Rosie Costello was a woman with a plan, and that plan was coaching her kids from a young age how to act retarded down at the Social Security office so that she could collect more than $200k in SSI checks over the yrs (but she’ll be sentenced in May) . . . . . A fatal one-car crash near Yuba City, Calif., was helped along by (the Highway Patrol believes) the driver’s working on his laptop . . . . . "A woman whose 15-yr-old son was killed in an alcohol-related wreck 18 months ago has been charged with providing beer to minors" during a party at her house, wrote the AP . . . . . Buried Lede: The Detroit Free Press opens with the sheriff in Lapeer wanting, for budget reasons, to auction off the department’s fully-automatic M-16 (i.e., machine gun); scarier lede: There are already 6,500 legally registered machine guns in Michigan . . . . . The Tennessean got hold of Al Gore’s electric bills for his 10,000-sq. ft. home, and it turns out, as expected, he’s buying lots of the utility’s green services but that powering a home that large shows at least that he might not feel quite as imminently doomed by carbon as he sometimes says . . . . . Robert Basterfield is such a raving sex maniac that the police chief of Tayside province, Scotland, went to court to get a stayaway order prohibiting Basterfield from approaching any lone woman—for, er, the next 30 yrs . . . . . Tacky: Usually an incoming governor will take down his predecessor’s highway signs that have his name on them, but Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said he’ll keep state pamphlets that have ex-Gov. Ehrlich’s name on them—as long as workers with scissors remove Ehrlich’s name (reports a Washington Post blog) . . . . . And back to the F State: On the east coast, in New Smyrna Beach, a tractor-trailer hauling a mobile home just happened to stall, where, at a railroad crossing, of course, with the cargo right smack on the tracks, and the situation ended badly (with photo!).
This posting to News of the Weird Daily is © 2007 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Here’s what Yr Editor calls an "elements" story, where the reporter (here, in Charleston, S.C.) doesn’t necessarily have to tie the strings together to make it interesting (and he didn’t). Elements: car floating on a lake PLUS women onshore yelling "There’s a baby!" PLUS there was no baby PLUS man swims ashore from the car, naked PLUS he was giving an object lesson to a woman he was dating PLUS because she was cheating on him PLUS he was also dating her neighbor. ‘Nuff said! [WCIV-TV]

Update
This one’s been mentioned in News o’ the Weird [897, 4-17-2005], but without much detail in the reports Yr Editor saw. So here is more about what you’d go through if you bought a ticket (around US$20) for the sort-of theme park in Eco Alberto Park near Mexico City, where you can experience a night of trying to illegally cross the U.S. border to have a better life, ducking blank bullets and outrunning fake U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Housekeeping
Just FYI, Yr Editor informs you that he has ended his association with CreativeLoafing.com, which has been hosting The F State since November 1. For those who just can’t live without their dose of specialized Florida weirdness, (1) I’ll resume posting the best of the Florida stories on NOTW Daily, and (2) I’ll announce a new home for The F State as soon as the cardinals confer and release the white smoke.

Below The Fold
"She has a hard time dealing with the fact [that] her father is in a dump," said a friend of the daughter of a dead man whose remains were mistakenly hauled away from a funeral home in the trash . . . . . A defiant brother and sister are fighting German anti-incest laws (invoking "constitutional rights") so they can add to their brood of four children (one normal) . . . . . Too Many Choices: Now there’s a website where Finlanders can upload their photographs and find political candidates who most nearly facially resemble them (and who therefore deserve their votes) . . . . . Speaking of Finland, its team won the world championship of "underwater ice hockey," i.e., underwater hockey played beneath a foot of floating ice in 35°F water (Uh, maybe you, like, had to be there) . . . . . Sounds Like a Joke: 10 women replied to the Internet ad of a Chinese man seeking to hire a stand-in mistress to take a beatdown on behalf of his real mistress (to be administered by his wife as a condition of saving their marriage) . . . . . Mexico passed a law forbidding extreme marital jealousy . . . . . A now-deceased Pakistani man agreed to give up his little daughter to settle a poker debt (effective when she came of age), and the now-17-yr-old is resisting, and the tribal council is negotiating . . . . . "[T]he Texas Fellowship of Cowboy Churches has grown to 85 congregations," reports the Waxahachie Daily Light . . . . . District of Calamity: Washington, D.C., police officers actually have to go to court and formally challenge their speeding tickets, even if they’re caught by camera while responding to an emergency.
This posting to News of the Weird Daily is © 2007 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 26, 2007

"John of God" Solves Health-Care Crisis
Joao de Deus brings his spirit-healer tour to New Zealand this week for 4 days at NZ$150/day (US$106) per ticket, and thousands of people with major illnesses are clearing their calendars. Whether it’s cancer, AIDS, blindness, drug addiction, asthma, or infertility (or more), John can cure it (because his New Zealand sponsor has seen it happen). One catch: You have to abstain from sex for 40 days afterward. Joao said, luckily, he could cure all those things without violating local law with his usual invasive surgeries (forceps up the nose, eyeball-scraping), because his 36 spirits will come in just as loud and clear as they do in Jao’s native Brazil (where he is reportedly a car salesman).

Confusing World Survey of Fetishes Causes Yr Editor to Rethink His Own Fetishes: Italy’s University of Bologna is the oldest continuously-operating degree-granting university in the world, and a couple of its researchers have discovered that more people fetishize navels than legs or butts, and have found 150 people who say they fetishize hearing aids (and 2 get all frisky over pacemakers). Feet/shoes top the list, followed by a big drop-off to underwear, then coats or body fluids or body size.

The N.Y. Times reported yesterday on the clarifying purge conducted by the national Delta Zeta sorority in ridding its house at DePauw University (Greencastle, Ind.) of all 23 of its think-for-themselves women, leaving the 12 Barbies in place (but even 6 of them resigned, in protest). A psych professor’s surveys had characterized the DZ’s as "socially awkward," which was apparently affecting recruiting (and limiting the ability of national Barbies to lord their superiority over the geeks).

Below The Fold
The power of the press is a nat’l treasure because otherwise, who’d have thought (besides the NY Post) to hire facial-recognition computer techs to conceptualize Anna Nicole’s baby all grown up so we could see who the daddy is [It’s Larry!] . . . . . Fine Point of the Law: A 16-yr-old girl won a jackpot at a Macau casino, and they had to pay off because it’s only illegal for an underager "to enter" a casino, not "to gamble" . . . . . Larry Manzanares is Denver city attorney and a former judge, and he says the reason he was in possession of a stolen city computer was that he, er, bought it from a guy in a parking lot (which is, what, where all ex-judges do their shopping) . . . . . Wow, lesbian koalas (but only in captivity, which suggests simply a rejection of the ugly captive males) . . . . . Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, of killing her granddaughter, because the woman might have gotten that idea from those geese she communicates with . . . . . What Went Around Came Around for three Pakistanis, who got blown to bits when the bombs they were carrying exploded after they hit a bump on their bicycle . . . . . The New York City Health Dept. disclosed that the KFC/Taco Bell in Greenwich Village, which was overrun by rats on the weekend, actually passed inspection on Thursday . . . . . The Council on Foreign Relations voted to accept Angelina Jolie as a member.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Below The Fold
Szarpie Travel of Warsaw is booking tours to (as close as they can get) the CIA’s alleged detention center in the northern Mazuria region of Poland (which shouldn’t be a security problem because the U.S. and Poland say it doesn’t exist) . . . . . A local gov’t information center in Swindon, England, said it would stock an author’s book only if he provided proof that he had £5M ($9.8M) in liability insurance (for, they said, paper cuts, etc.) . . . . . The U.S.’s Nat’l Assessment of Educational Progress reported that 12th-graders had the lowest-ever reading scores, but not to worry: Their average English grade was the highest ever (e.g., 2.52 GPA in 1990 up to 2.82 in 2005) . . . . . When a state trooper arresting a violent DUI woman complains that she grabbed his genitals four separate times, maybe, y’know, the incident wasn't that traumatic for him . . . . . Another one of those alleged “crimes” whose illegality Yr Editor finds puzzling: A Michigan woman is arrested for shooting the tires out of a car tailgating her [CORRECTION: "shot at" the tires] in rush-hour traffic . . . . . Awesome: Japanese researchers can store digital data inside the DNA of nearly-immortal bacteria . . . . . So many rich Iranians have settled in Beverly Hills (now 20 percent of the population) that ballots for upcoming city elections are printed in English, Spanish, and Farsi . . . . . The hot trend in human-smuggling across the Mexican border is hiding them in the car’s engine (three in two weeks, but all wispy Chinese) . . . . . Old wisdom of Rev. Lonnie Latham, the former Southern Baptist leader: The gay lifestyle is sinful (New wisdom, following his arrest for arranging a hotel liaison in 2006: I have a constitutional right to pick up men).

Friday, February 23, 2007

There’s your problem, right there: It’s an innocuous little story, about an upscale pet-accessories shop in Seattle, called High Maintenance Bitch, a name that doesn’t sit well with the local neighborhood association. Said its director, Janet Stillman, "I am probably the most progressive liberal person in the world, and I am personally offended by the sign." Of course. It’s only the ordinary, unprogressive people (like, well, Yr Editor) who know how foolish it is to expect to go through life unoffended.

Recurring Theme: This time it was a highly-inappropriate cross-check to the face by a player against a referee in a recreational hockey game that sent the guy to the hospital for a CT scan, but, wouldn’t you know it, once again doctors fortuitously found an operable tumor in someone's brain that might have grown to be inoperable if they hadn’t caught it.

Update
Ashrita Furman has for a long time been doing his job of being a self-described attention whore. (Well, he never actually used that phrase, but he has said that he does outrageous things to make himself prominent, or something like that.) News of the Weird has featured him a couple of times, more recently in 2003 [11-2-2003]:
Mr. Ashrita Furman, 48, claims the world record for breaking world records (81, 20 of which are still recognized by the Guinness Book), demonstrating extraordinary but fanciful skills, such as the fastest mile run while balancing a bottle of milk on his chin, unicycling backward for 53 miles, and pogo-stick jumping (3,647). According to a June [2003] New York Times profile, Furman is a celibate bachelor with few possessions and lives quietly in an India-American community in Jamaica, N.Y., whose residents are spiritually guided by guru Sri Chinmoy. He said he would go the distance in the November [2003] New York City Marathon not by running but by skipping. [New York Times, 6-12-03]
Well, Furman, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this week, did 40 squat thrusts in one minute while on the back of an elephant, which he said has just gotta be a record, and the Guinness Book people should expect to hear from him soon. Said Furman, "I’ve had this dream of doing a record on the back of an elephant for many, many years . . .."

Below The Fold
Hubba hubba: Iran announced plans to reserve an island in Oroumiyeh Lake for the exclusive use of female tourists . . . . . Arrested in Moultrie, Ga., on a charge of hiring a hit man: the 49-yr-old Mr. S. G. Contractor . . . . . A dozen seniors sightseeing during their cruise ship’s port call in Limon, Costa Rica, were accosted by three young punk-robbers, and after some of the seniors opened cans of whoop-ass, two punks fled and the third was killed in a lethal headlock . . . . . And speaking of whoop-ass, the attempted robbery of a Christian bookstore in Mesa, Ariz., was thwarted by a 58-yr-old clerk who stomped the perp and chased him out the door . . . . . Defense Minister Amir Peretz is apparently the Dan Quayle of Israel, with the latest: being photographed while observing troops through binoculars with the lens caps still on . . . . . Almost No Longer Weird: He called the cops to report a burglary in progress, but by the time they arrived, all they could see in plain sight were his 10 bongs and 23 oz. of marijuana [CORRECTION: 23 grams] (Note: Story has caller’s mug shot, and frankly, he doesn’t look too broken up by his arrest) . . . . . The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Aly Gomaa, ruled that hymen-reconstructive surgery is OK and that any man who insists on his future wife’s virginity should be prepared to demonstrate his own . . . . . Uh-oh: Chimpanzees in Senegal were documented making sharp spears with their hands and teeth and then finding and stabbing to death (Hitchcock Psycho-style, said a researcher) baby something-or-others, for food . . . . . Andre Henry’s defiant defense to a secretly-recorded jailhouse confession to 27 violent-crime charges was that it wasn’t he confessing, but his twin brother, who had switched cells with him (One slight complication: He has no twin brother [and thus was convicted]).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Here’s a darling of a story from Toronto, where a male cane-user and a half-blind female cane-user got into it with each other. It involved a sidewalk stand-off in 2005 where both adamantly refused to yield the right of way, followed by a brief caning free-for-all, including joint go-Cheney-yourself moments. If Yr Editor had been there, it would have been painfully difficult to have done the right thing (i.e., try to separate the two before someone got hurt) because the wrong thing was so mesmerizing. Last week, the judge OK’d the free-for-all but convicted the man of hitting the woman with a spiteful parting shot that she wasn’t expecting.

Recurring Themes
The spirit Popo Bawa is once again wreaking havoc in Dar es Salaam, forcing men to stand guard outside at night to protect their sleeping women from the rapist, who is super-sly, in that he is actually just a bat but transforms himself into a man.
Almost No Longer Weird: (1) Chad Mercer, 20, was arrested in Wilmington, Del., after he tried to run from cops during a traffic stop and tripped over his own baggy pants. (2) The Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s severe-weather drill yesterday for schools and local government offices was postponed because of severe weather.

Update
Steve Bixby, the private-property fanatic who killed two cops while defending a pitiful little strip of land in his front yard [NOTW Daily, 2-15-2007], was convicted and yesterday ordered to be ejected from among the living, which the jury decided after wrestling with the issue for, oh, about an hour. His mom had testified that she had home-schooled him, conceding that she had probably placed more emphasis than they do in public schools on the "God-given right" to private property. Also, a shrink had testified that Bixby has that notorious combination of a low IQ plus "a grandiose sense of self-importance."

Housekeeping
NOTW Daily is now available by e-mail if you join Google Groups. See "Housekeeping" entry on Tuesday’s [2-21-2007] post (below) for details, advisories, etc.

Below The Fold
Alleged cocaine-seller Antwon Williams, reaching into a car to stop a customer from driving away without paying, was then slammed into a utility pole at a high rate of speed, resulting in a "complete transection of the lower body at the pelvis" [LINK Corrected] . . . . . Gov. Schwarzenegger’s win-win budget proposal to save taxpayers money by shipping prisoners to other states is stymied by the prison guards’ union (whose members presumably fear that if they get laid off, they’ll never find jobs again as good as "prison guard") . . . . . Two performing clowns were murdered in Cacuta, Colombia, and it looks like a professional hit . . . . . Homer Simpson Come to Life: A New Zealand adventurer with a broken leg was rescued from a tree by helicopter but then the airlift cable accidentally swung him directly against another tree . . . . . Walter Stevens, 81, was smart to bury those old child-porn tapes (starring himself) in a plastic bag forever in his back yard in Sierra Vista, Ariz., but then he moved, and then the septic tank flooded the yard, and the bag surfaced, and the current resident turned them in . . . . . Maybe this is actually de rigueur for fish restaurants, but it says here that KFC is about to introduce a Fish Snacker sandwich and has sent a letter to the Vatican asking for it to be blessed . . . . . Even given the cost of finding lost mountain-climbers, several veteran mountaineers begged Oregon legislators not to require them to carry electronic locating devices, on the ground that it would make mountain-climbing too easy . . . . . We all know that buffet-goers’ eyes are bigger than their stomachs, but some Hong Kong restaurants say they’ll start charging diners who don’t clean their plates . . . . . A start-up project in Cambridge, Mass., aimed at big cities: a sort-of eBay in real time for available parking spaces . . . . . An even better idea, though, from Mexico’s Chihuahua state, to "scare straight" teenage girls into using birth control: computerized babies programmed to be nightmares.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Editor’s Obsessions
SCOTUS set a new rule yesterday for civil litigation, i.e., that punitive damages cannot be based on the totality of harm that may be caused to people who are not parties to the lawsuit. Thus, the court called attention to perhaps the most idiotic, least defensible drift of Anglo-American jurisprudence: that a major world economic engine (whether Ford or Microsoft or, in this case [sigh] Philip Morris) can theoretically be nearly mortally wounded by what six people of ordinary ignorance in Ketcham, Idaho, or Starke, Florida, or wherever, think. And, compounding the problem is the idea that if the company should have to give up enormous assets in penitence, the smart thing to do is to give it all to a single resident of that city (er, to share with his or her lawyer, of course). Though ordinarians are obsessed with looking at this as big business versus injured consumers, that is absolutely beside the point. Yr Editor has no objection to awful companies paying through the nose, nor to a litigant/whistle-blower being compensated for his losses plus his suffering and inconvenience plus his lawyers’ fees. But if we go further than that and actually punish a very bad company, that punishment should be decided by a broadly democratic and intelligent panel (say, Congress or an agency governed by due process, not six jurors who, though earnest, are hardly up to the task of evaluating science, engineering, and the world economy). And if we sock a company for big bucks, the money should go to a national do-good fund rather than be handed to a single winner of a virtual lottery. (NOTE: The business-vs.-consumer argument seems particularly inapplicable in this case, since the Supreme Court dissent had the two most liberal justices joining the two most conservative.) Anyway, when you hear extreme wailing on this issue, know that it’s coming directly from personal-injury lawyers, especially the ones who haven’t yet been able to afford private jets.

Housekeeping
NOTW Daily is now available by e-mail if you join Google Groups. See "Housekeeping" entry on Tuesday’s [2-21-2007] post (below) for details, advisories, etc.

Below The Fold
Long-time Israeli yoga instructor Miri Harovi has decided to start freelancing on Tel Aviv buses to get passengers to relax and stop worrying about what easy targets they are . . . . . Say what? Finland’s power company Fortum was ordered to pay higher compensation (equivalent of about $500, up from about $150) to a customer whose frozen foods spoiled during a power outage (and yes, the outside temperature in Finland was about what you think it was) . . . . . All hail British inventor Michael Killian and his new bicycle that you sit on and pedal facing (for example) north to make it go east or west . . . . . Almost as clever: The Netherlands produces sort of a "Denver boot" for humans (prisoners): a knee brace that you zap with electricity, rendering leg muscles immobile . . . . . Recurring Theme (though usually happening in Texas): Kettle Moraine School District became the latest in Wisconsin to simultaneously budget-cut its programs yet upgrade a football field (by $460k, though it’s community money, but on the other hand, "the community," if it wanted, could tax itself a liiitttttle bit more for programs) . . . . . Bishop State Community College in Mobile, Ala., is experiencing a massive tuition-abuse scandal, by insiders, including one staffer who got his 67-yr-old granny three athletic scholarships (even though she didn’t use them, in that she soon died) . . . . . The Administration, right on schedule: The President orders his new czar of intelligence to, hey, go hire people who speak Farsi and Arabic (The State Dept. had six full-time, according to a recent count) . . . . . A Los Angeles librarian and author of an award-winning children’s book sends other librarians into a tizzy because, in the book, a rattlesnake bites a dog on the (and I quote) "scrotum."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Perverts are soooo lame: A 34-yr-old guy in Wauwatosa, Wis., is in custody after apparently sticking his head underneath a stall in a ladies’ room to photograph a woman sitting on the pot. When their eyes met, the best he could do was, "Oh, I just accidentally came in here." (He did, I’m sure, accidentally pick a woman with a husband nearby, to his detriment.) And then Thomas Piles, 53, was arrested for driving on Interstate 74 in Shelbyville, Ind., wagging his stuff, but he later explained to a deputy, "[T]hese pants always [come unzipped]."

Recurring Themes: (1) The U.S. is way too politically correct, still, but here’s another one of those reports that make Yr Editor believe that British "progressives" are not really serious with their PC stuff, but are just trying to taunt people. An advocacy group (with some public funding) has recommended that the Nat’l Health Service stop using the terms "mum" and "dad," because it might alienate gay couples or their kids. Better, they say: "guardians" or "carers." (2) It’s another one of those somewhat-inexplicable traditional festivals, this thing in Ivrea, Italy, commemorating the people’s historic uprising against noblemen who considered it their right to steal a bride’s virginity on the night before her wedding. So, for the worthy commemoration, they spend the day throwing oranges at each other (more than a million this yr).

That’s Messed Up
"Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan’s room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses." This is "Building 18" of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where the severely wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan get treatment offered by a grateful nation. The Washington Post did the investigation, and apparently the 2-star bureaucratic toadfrog in charge of the facility was so embarrassed that he had crews on it within hours.

Housekeeping
News of the Weird Daily is available by e-mail, once a day, if you register at Google Groups and then join the group DailyWeird. (There’s also a group NewsoftheWeird, for the weekly column. There’s also a group News-of-the-Weird, but I don’t know what the hell that is.) No spam, no nothing except NOTW Daily six times a week. (NOTE: The archive of posts apparently doesn’t contain the links to stories, but the last I checked, the daily e-mails do have links. To those of you who joined yesterday, let me know whether this-here post you’re reading arrived with or without links [send to WeirdNewsTips at the domain Yahoo dot com]. If it came without links, I have to decide whether Google Groups is doing that, or your own e-mail program is doing that. Obviously, if Google Groups is doing that, and I can’t fix it, the whole idea of this e-mail thing is wasted. However, if the culprit is your e-mail program, and you want the links in with the e-mail, you can maybe adjust it. But I only know about my own e-mail program, so don’t ask me. To those who join the group today, wait to see what you get tomorrow.)

Updates
The Scientology-wannabe Raelians are selling their compound in Quebec and moving to what is apparently the more gullible US of A. It appears that the property comes with the replica of the UFO that Rael spotted on his journey through space to get here.
London’s Daily Telegraph is on the ground on the south sea island of Vanna, reporting on the villagers who are busy gearing up for the June 10 birthday of Britain’s Prince Philip, who (as News of the Weird reported) is worshiped as a god. The villagers would really like a visit, but they’ll settle for a few new photos of the man (along with, said the chief, "a Land Rover, bags of rice, or a little money").

Below The Fold
Chutzpah!: He robbed a bank in Wellington, New Zealand, and then, while cops were blanketing the area looking for him, he ducked into another bank and robbed it, too . . . . . A rural Romanian priest was sentenced to 14 yrs in prison for an exorcism that killed a young nun (and Yr Editor only hopes the prison is progressive enough to provide the man some fashion consulting about facial hair) . . . . . Make your own punch line: Doctors at a Newcastle, England, hospital helped a premature baby overcome an oxygen shortage by giving him Viagra (Sildenafil) to open blood vessels.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Housekeeping Note
Comedy is easy, compared to the art of competing for Internet readers. Yr Editor needs help at both, especially the readers thing. So, I’m going to try to offer News of the Weird Daily by e-mail. All you have to do is register with The Rulers of the Wor—er, Google, at Google Groups, for the group DailyWeird. One thing for sure, based on my experience with Google Groups: You’ll get no spam whatsoever, nothing except NOTW Daily, 6 times a week. No one can use the group for any other purpose. I promise. The links to the stories will be sent in the e-mail, so if you don’t see the links in what you receive, the problem is probably with your e-mail settings, and don’t ask me how to fix them. (Also, don’t confuse this group with the Google Group for the weekly News of the Weird column. That group is called NewsoftheWeird. This group is called DailyWeird.) If this daily thing somehow doesn’t work out in e-mail, I may be writing tomorrow that everything’s off. Now, on with the News . . .

"It was too much for some residents of The Dalles [Oregon] to believe that a rosy-cheeked 82-year-old [married, female] church volunteer with a penchant for gardening and a reputation for kindness actually had sexual intercourse with the 11-year-old boy in her foster care" [wrote The Oregonian]. She reports to start her 3-yr sentence tomorrow after pleading to one count (the kid said it was more). (Her husband, fortunately, passed away after the sex but before word got out.)

Oops: Behold lawyer Anthony E. Sonnett, "defending" Ford Motor Co. from a really bad Explorer rollover injury lawsuit, which Ford has by the way successfully defended in 10 cases out of 10—until this one. According to a New York Times piece, evidence is that the verdict for the plaintiffs, and the humongous punitive damages that followed, were largely due to one final, throwaway question that Sonnett asked the victim’s husband on cross-examination: "The silver lining, to the extent that there could be one, it has brought you and [your severely disabled wife] and the family closer together?" The husband’s answer: "I don’t think it’s a benefit or a plus in any way." The jury took offense to Mr. Sonnett’s suggestion, to the tune of $369 million. (Ford is asking the U.S. Supreme Court for help.) [New York Times, 2-19-2007 $$]

Update
Scott Brown is the Massachusetts state senator who returned fire at a high school, reading students’ vitriol-filled posts about him on a Facebook.com page, all because he opposes the state’s legalization of same-sex marriage [NOTW Daily, 2-10-2007]. Last week, Wonkette.com reported that in a former life (1982), Brown posed topless for Cosmopolitan in a hunk contest, all out in the open for gay lurkers.

Inside NOTW
Beware of this week’s News of the Weird. I stuck in a filler at the bottom of the column about Britain’s Nat’l Phobics Society’s gearing up a campaign to recognize people with public restroom anxiety, and immediately one reader wrote to say that he was so offended at my insensitivity to the pee-shy that he would never again read News of the Weird. Seriously. So, please. I need readers to stay with me here, so please do not read that story!

Below The Fold
Do It Again! One mo' time! A world-class German paraglider got swept into a violent t-storm in Australia last week, carried up 6 miles to a low-oxygen, minus-58 degrees F, was unconscious nearly an hour, but then drifted back down and has recovered . . . . . A Virginia road-rager tossed a McD’s cup of ice into a car (caused a mess, but no injuries) and is now serving two yrs in the clink . . . . . "Once a bank robber, always a bank robber," said the San Francisco cop, speaking of Paul Paris, 54, who allegedly knocked off a Citibank while conveniently dressed in the very same clothes he was wearing when released from lockup 7 days earlier . . . . . Another life sustained by the blood of Christ: A burglar got locked into a weekends-only church with only sacramental wine to drink for four days . . . . . No Longer Weird: Another guy found long-since dead (a year, in this case), in front of a TV set, which was still on (even though he was blind) . . . . . New college fad at the U. of Minnesota: Donate blood, then run down to the bar, have just one drink or two, and you’ll be out like a light . . . . . The VA runs hospitals very well (among the best in the country!); they just don’t know how to protect personal data . . . . . Recurring: It’s not as long as Beatty Chadwick has been sitting in a Philadelphia cell for contempt of court, but here’s Martin Armstrong, in a New York City lockup for 7 yrs now, because he says he doesn’t have the documents the judge says he has.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

[UPDATE: Ehhhhh, it's not going to happen at all today, I'm afraid. Back on schedule Monday. If you have a couple minutes to kill, though, you could check out my Florida-only news 'n' commentary, The F State. Thank you.]
[NOTE: NOTW Daily is published 6 days a week, normally not later than 12 noon New York time. By "normally," I mean, "not today." However, I'll probably have something up by 4 p.m. New York time.]

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sounds—uh, Looks Like a Joke: The Int’l Atomic Energy Authority has a new warning sign, which you can see here. Now, the first problem is that it was supposed to alert all unsophisticated people on planet Earth to the dangers of radiation, but "radiation" continues to be represented by the completely inexplicable physicists’ sign for radiation (but now with "rays" supposedly fanning out from it!). Helpfully, though, there is now a skull and crossbones, which is a pretty widely acceptable sign of deadliness, and, even more helpfully, there’s a suggestion of what to do if you happen into an area where this sign is displayed, i.e., you run away! This sign is the result of five yrs’ research and testing on 1,650 people in 11 countries.

Confluence of Several of Yr Editor’s Favorite Themes: You’ve got your grand-scale, arrogant investment fraud, which means you’ve also got your gullible investors believing that money grows on trees (for them, only, not for us!), and you top that off with the daughter of the perp getting an expensive, in-your-face Sweet 16 party on MTV, capped off with a brand-new BMW, and this final word from the charming little girl: "My dad owns an oil company. . . . I love oil. Oil means shoes and cars and purses. So it sets me apart from everybody else in this town [Phoenix]. It smells like money, Daddy!"

And by the way, do we ever coddle fraudsters in the U.S.! By contrast, Mr. Wang Zhendong, convicted in Liaoning, China, of running a fake ant-breeding operation that cost investors the equivalent of $387B, was sentenced to, er, death.

Updates
BBC News carried a story yesterday on the 50th anniversary of the John Frum Movement cargo cult on the south Pacific island of Tanna, but of course Mr. Frum was believed-in before World War II, which is why the islanders thought all that cargo landing on the island (which was a staging area for the war) was heaven-sent.
The DNA test came back on that Malaysian cow that two farmers were contesting ownership of. The cow is supposedly worth the equivalent of $570, but the DNA test (paid for by the two farmers) cost $914 ($457 each). Must be a hell of a cow.

Below The Fold
A kid had a really, really bad experience out tagging the side of a bridge after rappelling over it [Link Corrected] at about -5 degrees F (but then the rope caught on his leg, and, dangling there, he thought if he just shed some of his clothes, it would be easier to wriggle free) . . . . . A (professional) dog groomer apparently sliced off part of a shi tzu’s ear but then super-glued it back on (and fluffed up the shaggy hair over it), but then the glue wasn’t so super, in that the ear came off with the first bath . . . . . Latest truck spill, near the Santa Cruz-Pima county line in Arizona: a marijuana-carrying F-150 driven by a citizen of the sovereign nation of Mexico, trying to elude the Border Patrol . . . . . One more problem for Kenyans: Women don’t know how to give good sex . . . . . New mom Rebecca Johnson said her delivery was quick: "I didn’t know what happened until he was in my pant leg" . . . . . And another of those reactions that Yr Editor (a former teacher), reluctantly, agrees is wrong: New York City school teacher Gale Dragone, 52, threw a book at a 12-yr-old student who just wouldn’t shut up (and bloodied his nose).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Coulrophobia is the word someone with letters after his name recently made up to describe a serious fear of clowns, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a backgrounder. Its interviewees seem to think the 1990 Stephen King miniseries "It" was the watershed event that tied together those who had been merely uneasy and a new crop of the truly terrified. Said a Ringling Brothers clown, "It’s the ‘in’ phobia right now."

Steve Bixby, 39, went on trial yesterday in Abbeville, S.C., with his dad, 77, charged with double murder (2 deputies, meaning the death penalty is on the table), and the provocation was that the cops were enforcing an order to confiscate an ugly 20-foot patch of land in the front of their even uglier yard on which sits their truly ugly house so that the state could widen Highway 72. The Bixbys had apparently done a lot of stewing over this and had decided to "protect it to our last breath," Steve said. South Carolina is home to a lot of anti-gov’t types, but nobody goes around killing their good ol’ boy deputies, so it’ll be hard finding a jury that doesn’t want to fry ‘em. [Ed.: Oops, that’s only in the F State that we fry people. No, not with the electric chair. As you recall, we stick a needle in them, but we do it all wrong so that the guy gets an excruciatingly painful chemical burn on his arm, a frying, before he expires.] (Bonus point: The Bixbys recently relocated from New Hampshire, y’know, Live Free or Die, so maybe now we’ll see some name-calling between the two states over who’s got the bigger free-state manhood.)

The Confluence of Horniness and Parkinson’s: Three witnesses on the F State’s Sanibel island say it was retired U.S. Rep. Joseph McDade, 75, of Scranton, Pa. (who has the disease, though it’s not known if he was officially twitching), who was following women around in public at a resort while masturbating. That is, those movements around his crotch could have been manifestations of the illness, or perfectly controlled jerkings. (Other news: Ron Thompson is a state legislator in West Virginia, and we still don’t know what kind of problem he’s got, but the House of Delegates voted to let him back in after kicking him out for having disappeared for 10 months. Thompson brought a note from his shrink, but there were no details.)

Below The Fold
Jeffrey Harrison, a popular studmuffin selection from a 1980s Los Angeles sperm donor catalog (interests in philosophy, music, drama) now lives in an RV with 4 dogs and scrapes by on odd jobs . . . . . Plant greenery to improve the area’s feng shui? No, a county gov’t in China has workers just green-spray-paint the side of a facing mountain (Seriously) . . . . . Apparently the U.S.’s most-contrived holiday (which was yesterday) has taken hold in largely-Muslim Bangladesh, at least in the colleges . . . . . After a report that his daughter-stewardess did a Qantas restroom thing with actor Ralph Fiennes, dad defended the woman, calling the complainers jealous and "probably ugly as a hat full of arseholes" . . . . . A gross failure of punishment as rehab, in Manitoba: A man is looking at his 13th conviction in 10 yrs for threatening to beat up or kill people who have done him even the slightest of wrongs . . . . . Minnesota pastor Mac Hammond clarifies that getting rich is not just what God wants but is actually beyond your control: "[I]f you base your life on [God’s] covenant, these [riches] are gonna overtake you. You can’t do anything about it, friend" . . . . . An alternative notion of "properity ministry" struck former pastor Randall Radic in Ripon, Calif., who faked some documents and sold his congregants’ building right out from under them (and got caught but will probably walk because he’s agreed to testify as a jailhouse snitch in another case).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Feng shui, twice removed: First, you hafta believe in feng shui, which is hard enough. But then, you hafta believe (despite a lack of authoritative text) that even animals can get all messed up if the feng shui isn’t just right. The Los Angeles Zoo cleared both hurdles and paid $4,500 to a consultant to fix up the happy new home of the golden monkeys on loan from China.

The Navy put a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on the Environmental Impact Statement it must file when it employs dolphins and sea lions around ports in Washington state to guard against terrorist infiltration. Dolphins have great sonar ability, and it says here that a sea lion can somehow carry around a cuff in its mouth and clamp it on a rogue swimmer’s leg.

Canada’s TV regulators told the Miracle Channel (religious programming on cable) that it would be watching closely to make sure there is no repetition of its 2004 on-air fundraising appeals, which apparently included such pitches as, If you don’t give, you are robbing God and could go bankrupt, and If you give, God says your income will double. There had been reports of donors cashing in retirement accounts and expecting higher real-estate values.

Update
Veteran New Zealand lawyer Rob Moodie was cited for contempt of court for publicly releasing a document about a gov’t bridge collapse, which he said would help his client (since a court had suppressed it). In other news, Moodie, 68, said he has abandoned his campaign to cross-dress in court (showing "a flash of lace at the urinal"), which he had said he was doing in order to call attention to the old-boy network that runs the country’s legal system [NOTW 967, 8-20-2006]. (But the abandonment didn’t stop the Sydney Morning Herald from illustrating its bridge-document story with a file photo of Moodie all dolled up as Miss Alice [in Wonderland].)

Below The Fold
Jorge Mejia, your classic whipped husband: wrecked his wife’s brand-new car but felt he had to make up a full-blown story about being kidnaped and crashing as he wildly escaped . . . . . The worst thing, said the CNN reporter interviewing the macho adolescent who had taken on the name "Col. Rambo" in some African militia was that "[W]e, as adults, had to address [him] as such [or he might kill us]" . . . . . The latest Nigerian scam appears to be the "Free Bishon Frise puppies" deal, if you’ll just send in the shipping money (and a reporter actually called the number in Nigeria and asked to hear the "Bishon" bark, at which point the guy on the phone woofed a couple of times) . . . . . Everyone has a particular issue that sets them off, and for the militant Hindu groups Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena, it’s that blasphemous Western phenomenon of Valentine’s Day, which India’s citizens will celebrate at their peril . . . . . Best Headline (San Jose Mercury News): "Judge Rules Government Supply of Marijuana Is Inadequate"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

London parents outdo even New Yorkers: It’s now commonplace that applications for the most prestigious preschools in London have to be submitted shortly after the baby emerges from the womb, and a few schools suggest even giving them a head’s up during the pregnancy. "I filled in the forms with an epidural in my back," one mom said. One school reserves five advance places every month, and savvy moms try to postpone a 31st-of-the-month delivery (the five slots long-ago taken) so the kid’ll drop on the 1st (new slots open!). [pay-per-view Wall Street Journal, 2-12-2007]

That’s Messed Up
Army still short-changing soldiers on defense: Remember "Shock and Awe"? The March 2003 display of super-destructive, yet precision bombs made the world think there was nothing American technology couldn’t bring to war. Well, here we are, four years later, and the Pentagon still hasn’t armored U.S. soldiers nearly as well as it technologically could. There’s that NBC News report on rocket propelled grenade-defending technology that Israel loves, yet the Pentagon won’t go there because it prefers a competing system made by Raytheon that won’t be ready before, er, 2011. And then the Washington Post reported yesterday that even armor upgrades on the Humvee (just to keep the IEDs from blowing through them, not neutralizing them) is still a work in progress. Y’see, the U.S. needed to attack Iraq in March 2003 and not a bit later, even though it was short in equipment by around $56B, and obviously it hasn’t caught up yet. Yikes.

Below The Fold
El Presidente Morales wants Bolivia to have more indigenous celebrations, like "Tinku," which is an annual Aymara/Quechua community-wide, bloody fight club (aka "a sublime, beautiful act," according to one mayor) . . . . . A judge in Taiwan granted a divorce after the new wife refused to undress on her wedding night, adding (to hubby), "You are ridiculous!" . . . . . Stephen Drake is thought to be (reported The Sun) the only person in Britain clinically terrified of little old ladies, i.e., he’s afraid he’ll uncontrollably attack them and so stays far away . . . . . A British businessman was arraigned in New York City on a charge of raping his personal assistant, but according to a tape recording she made, he said he is "99 percent" sure that he didn’t have sex with her . . . . . Major Irony Alert: A New York City condominium board is suing a Subway sandwich shop because the smell of all that fresh bread grosses them out . . . . . The bully-prevention policy of Kiriani boys’ high school in Kenya: Send the 20 uncircumcized boys home until they get fixed because, otherwise, they’ll get beat up . . . . . Just as the annual inflation rate in Zimbabwe broke 1,500 percent, supporters of President Bob said they were starting a drive to raise about $1.2M to give him a proper 83rd birthday party.

Monday, February 12, 2007

FBI Shutters Fox Mulder’s Office: Well, not quite. Actually, Princeton University is shuttering its Engineering Anomalies Research lab (after 28 yrs of experiments on ESP and telekinesis). While several prominent people had supported the concept of the lab, it produced nothing of peer-review quality. (One editor told the lab’s founder Robert Jahn that he would publish a certain paper if Jahn could get it over to his office telepathically.) The noted watchdog of foolishness, physicist Bob Park, said good riddance.

Meanwhile, Cheshire, Mass., requested federal money for a new fire truck, didn’t get it, but the fire department was instead awarded a $656k Homeland Security grant to beef up its community volunteers to protect against terrorist targets (the most prominent being the Cheshire Cheese Museum) (but the grant stipulation won’t allow buying a fire truck).

Vermont’s proposed no-cellphoning-while-driving legislation is pretty comprehensive: No eating, drinking, smoking, reading, writing, personal grooming, "interacting with pets or cargo," or using any personal communication device while driving—and, just to prevent what sponsoring state Rep. Thomas Koch’s wife said she witnessed, no playing a musical instrument (especially that flute she saw).

Allen Falkner went to San Jose, Calif., last week to give a four-day seminar in the Art of Human Suspension (i.e., hanging from meat hooks) at a tattoo parlor to 15 students who believe their lives will never be the same. News you can use: Skin tears easily, so be careful. "There’s a lot of sharpness." (He means really bad pain.) "I love you in your meat hooks" (said the wife of a hanger). It’s still not certain how Fakir Musafar feels about all this, since he’s the guy who "popularized" hanging in the U.S. in a Modern Primitives book but feels too many people hang now without a proper appreciation of the cultural roots. Noted.

Updates
Breast implants made of one’s own fat were supposed to be an improvement over saline and silicone (er, feel-wise), but now, the ultimate, as a Japanese procedure has been approved in Germany (and therefore, the EU): fat plus stem cells, so that the implants come alive (though they can’t yet do better than B cup, probably).
George Dalmas got 3 yrs in prison for 17 break-ins and 1,074 panty-thefts in McLean, Va. We know about him because he was a mid-level administrator at the CIA [NOTW Daily, 2-9-2006]. Turns out he has more than "that" problem. He’s also kept his fingernail clippings for 20 yrs and constantly inspects pens for bugging devices. The panties, said a shrink, weren’t sexual, just calming devices for his out-of-control demons, and that's why he stored them so carefully in bags.

Below The Fold
A conservation group in Nepal is setting out "harmless" dead animals because contaminated ones are making vultures extinct . . . . . The Lead Story in NOTW this week is about merlot-fed cattle in Australia, but in the UK they’re using beer (40 pints a day) . . . . . A Macquarie University official in Australia, accused of mismanagement, had artwork seized by investigators as possibly university property, but wants it back because it’s hers, especially that painting of her butt . . . . . Excuse me? The Int’l Atomic Energy Agency, fed up with Iran’s posturing, said it would suspend half of the technical nuclear assistance it has been providing the country? Half? Has been providing? . . . . . Not your father’s model train set: At the Int’l Toy Fair in Nuremberg, companies introduce railside scenic figures of (1) police raiding a brothel and (2) a couple having sex in a meadow . . . . . Mobile hoarding: Ann Biglin’s car crashed, she said, because maybe a coffee cup or something landed on her accelerator, but police found her 2000 Ford Focus jam-packed with trash (bonus photo) . . . . . In Kenya’s notorious Kibera slum, they’re tired of celebrities dropping by, tut-tutting for photo opps, and leaving, and now they especially hate the commercial tours of Kibera for guilt-feeling adventurers . . . . . It’s a tough job being an anesthetist for zoo giraffes because, for one thing, like someone chopping down a tree, ya gotta figure out which way the giraffe will fall (which this guy didn’t) . . . . . Tennessee says it’ll go back to the drawing board on its official executioner's manual, into which "lethal injection" instructions were interspersed with the old "electric chair" instructions, as if you had to set a rheostat just before you stuck the guy . . . . . A lawyer to despise (until some day you need him): The evidence showed that a cop with a problem stalked a woman, then traffic-stopped her and ejaculated on her, but by the time the lawyer was done, the jury said it was all her fault.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

There’s a $25,000/person meal being served tonight at a Bangkok hotel (six world-class chefs, fixing grub for 40 invitation-only "epicurean masters," with $500/bottle champagne and a choice among 10 of the finest wines in the world). You don’t want Yr Editor to tell you how many African children will actually die tonight during the hours of the meal because their only drinking water is basically feces soup.

Campaigning against "hate speech" is so inconvenient: Massachusetts state senator Scott Brown is a leading opponent of the state’s legalization of gay marriage and appeared at a high school in Wrentham to discuss the issue. Yr Editor wasn’t there but imagines that at least some people spoke to him about "tolerance" and "stop the hate." Brown then read aloud student messages about him (posted to a Facebook.com page of a pro-gay-marriage teacher at the school), including profanities and negative references to Brown’s daughter (and read the names of the people who posted the comments). Hey, that’s not fair, the opposition screamed.

Riddle Me This: How is Yr Editor to evaluate the story of the ├╝ber-heroic San Franciscan Michael Keenan, who ran back into a flaming building to save his friend’s dog, which might still die anyway, and now Keenan has a 50-50 chance, himself (and if he makes it, it will only be after going through a living hell). (And it was his second remarkable rescue job in six years.) On the one hand, what a selfless person, and a far, far better human than I! On the other hand, it’s the faintest of lines that separates him from a mid-list mention in any year’s Thinning the Herds.

Inside NOTW
Yr Editor announces the NOTW Reporters’ Hall of Fame, to honor those hard-working stiffs with highly-refined and continuously-tuned noses for the most delicious stories on their respective beats. These are the bylines that, once spotted, bring Yr Editor to life like an Uma Thurman Slap in the Face. The first two inductees, ta-daaaaa, are Tom Alex of the Des Moines Register (consistently a sentinel, alert to above-average criminal stupidity) and R. Scott Moxley of the OC Weekly (Santa Ana, Calif.) (heroically wallowing in Orange County sex gone bad). Congratulations.

Below The Fold
A bodybuilder is suing Pat Robertson for not cutting him in on the money Pat got when he commercially licensed his miracle drinks, and last week the bodybuilder said Rev. Pat (when he showed up for a deposition) threatened to kill him . . . . . An "I left the kids in the car because I was busy" two-fer: a Sheboygan, Wis., mother needing a tanning session (two kids in 12-degree, minus-2 wind chill) and a suburban Minneapolis dad needing to "win some money" at blackjack (minus-7 degrees, minus-22 wind chill, and the kid nearly died) . . . . . Speaking of Sheboygan, and the cold snap, they had to close Interstate 43 on Thursday after it became impassable because of sno—wait, because of cow intestines that spilled from a semi . . . . . A performance artist, still going strong at age 78, lost his appeal over his counterintuitive 2006 hammer attack on one of Duchamp’s famous urinals . . . . . Joanne Harding reached into the candy jar at the Abington, Mass., town clerk’s office, took out a Tootsie Roll, wound up breaking her tooth on it, and now of course is suing the town . . . . . Two anti-whaling activists, intending to mess up a Japanese whaler near Antarctica, got lost in the fog in their little dinghy, were rescued with the help of the whaler, and then immediately resumed their mission and messed up the whaler . . . . . Recurring Theme, but worse: A Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center van dumped a just-released crippled patient back where they think he lives, on Los Angeles’s skid row, broken colostomy bag and all.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A proposal by that state senator from New York City to ban personal audio devices (music players, cell phones, etc.) in crosswalks was prompted not by a concern for public safety (e.g., pedestrian-avoiding cars swerving into buildings, cars, and other pedestrians) but simply because that legislator recently had two constituents, with an inadequate ration of survival genes, who never genuinely respected two-ton death machines.

If you lie down with the deconstructionists, your grade may get deconstructed: Student Brian Marquis sued UMass-Amherst for treating his "84" grade as a C instead of a possible A-minus. "Quite frankly," he said, "I find this utterly unacceptable."

Maybe not "the" root" but "a" root of all evil is people trying to have it both ways, like "compassionate" Whole Foods, for example, which says it has now figured out a humane way to kill lobsters (for its Maine store), i.e., if the lobsters could talk, they’d pretty much be OK with this?

Brandon Reece in Kansas City shows how utterly simple it is to make lots of money these days. He got to reading some books on the Kama Sutra, tantra, Taoist rituals, etc., and thought about relatively dormant ideas about how a penis could be manually stretched to get larger (break down erectile tissue, which grows back microscopically larger each time). Medical experts said any increase in size would be barely, barely noticeable, but never mind. Armed with journal references that verify the germ of his business (but not the suggested results), he put up a website, and the money comes rolling in.

Update
The Florida theater showing The Hoohaa Monologues [NOTW Daily, 2-8-2007] has changed its marquee back to The Vagina Monologues after the producer said the contract with the author prohibits any changes (and the reason certainly was not that CNN and newspapers splashed the story all over the place yesterday).

Housekeeping
I admitted on Tuesday [NOTW Daily, 2-6-2007] that the NY Post webmaster had beat me down, kicked my butt, in hiding a story online that had appeared in the newsprint edition (about the former "breatharian" who had his kid removed by the state). Well, the story is here (for three or four more days, anyway).

Errorors
Yesterday’s alleged ski gondola masturbateur is age 46, not 26.

Below The Fold
A court just up and canceled Tenerife’s entire celebration of Carnival this year (Can they do that? A mere court larger than Carnival? I don’t think so.) . . . . . Suspicions Confirmed: The French hosiery manufacturer Gerbe announced pantyhose for men . . . . . Life Imitates Chris Rock: Cook County (Ill.) will debate a plan to raise revenue by taxing bullets at 10 cents each . . . . . The mayor of Los Angeles, breaking a longstanding strategic silence, has launched a police campaign against the city’s most dangerous gangs (thereby motivating the less-murderous gangs to step it up) . . . . . Alarming trend: the "dental spa" (meaning your root canal comes with a backrub, peppermint foot scrub, manicure, etc.).

Thursday, February 08, 2007

In the early days of News of the Weird and its ancestor (the zine View from the Ledge), Hon. Marion S. Barry (for Shepilov!) was the biggest askhoal around, and we recognized him as chairman of our Board of Inspiration. Today, he still remains aggressively shame-free, but at age 70, it looks more like an undiagnosed case of Alzheimer’s. The D.C. Councilman is now in two courts and might finally have exhausted the reservoir of fear that local judges have for turning on him. Less seriously, he has a pending drug-possession charge that was a probation violation. More seriously, he apparently is blatantly ignoring the terms of a tax-conviction probation by failing to file, at all, federal and local tax returns for 2005. I feel bad for piling on the pathetic Barry now, and I’ll feel even worse after the judges crack down on him and few D.C. residents care anymore.

The clash of civilizations, live from Sudan, reported by Der Spiegel: Geographically and culturally separate from the radical Islamic gov’t to the north and the radical Christian rebels to the south (Darfur) are large numbers of animists, who still worship plants and rocks and things. Oh, it’s gonna be a long, long 21st century.

Can’t Possibly Be True: A drama theater in a conservative north Florida town actually booked The Vagina Monologues, but due to complaints, changed the marquee, presumably so that parents wouldn’t have to explain to their kids what a vagina is. New marquee: The Hoohah Monologues. Seriously.

Below The Fold
The principal of Johnstown Primary School in Wales declared, No Mother’s Day cards this year (that day being March 18 over there) because it might make orphans feel bad . . . . . A Bangladeshi cab driver in New York City earnestly returned a bag of diamonds to an out-of-town dealer who rode with him even though she was from so far out of town that she had left him a 30-cent tip on a $10.70 fare . . . . . More Chinese preparation for the Olympics: On the 11th day of every month, citizens are urged to practice waiting in line (instead of brawling for a space) . . . . . Possible Hoax Alert in Cape Coral, Fla., as a family claims they’re being hyper-stalked by a guy, who even broke in and wrote a cryptic threat on their toilet seat lid, but the cops wish they could find even one piece of physical evidence . . . . . In a Phoenix suburb, a motorist got so incensed at a driver on his cell phone that he rammed him, pushing him into traffic, then fled (and police, for some reason, believe that to be a crime) . . . . . In Hamilton, Ontario, a pathetic robber goes 0-for-3 (petite blonde clerk snatches loot back from him, potential carjack victim pushes him away, and then he loses a second tug-of-war with said petite clerk) . . . . . William Barret III, 26, was arrested at a ski area in Winhall, Vt., and charged with flashin' and jerkin’ in a gondola [Bonus: NY Post hed was "Nude Slope Dope Flaunts Ski Pole"].

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Updates
The saga of Capt. Nowak has, as they say, sucked all the oxygen out of the news cycles here in the F State and around the country, but here’s one more observation: Even though prospective astronauts were reported to get only four hours’ psych counseling as part of tests to determine their suitability, it doesn’t matter, because, according to one of Yr Editor’s showcase tenets . . . (and repeat after me) . . . Everyone . . . has . . . a . . . dark . . . side. Everyone. (Some have several, of course.)
This one feels like an update, but I can’t find it in my database: Michael Fitzgibbon, 37, pleaded no contest in Muskegon, Mich., to having sex with his girlfriend’s 15-yr-old daughter, which he facilitated via written contract to which supposedly the three of them agreed because Fitzgibbon said he couldn’t hold out during the several months his woman would be laid up from surgery (and needed a fill-in).
Last yr, Yr Editor noted how dire things were in Zimbabwe:
Zimbabwe’s world’s-worst inflation officially reached 1,042 percent in April, with prices doubling every three or four months and the unemployment rising to 70 percent. Only the unsophisticated fail to spend any money they have promptly, even though, for example, toilet paper sells for Zim$145,000 a roll (about 69 U.S. cents). According to an April New York Times dispatch, President Robert Mugabe’s remedy is simply to print trillions of dollars in new money (which he needs to keep his government workers loyal, to prop up his dictatorship)
Well, things there are worse.

Below The Fold
Jeez, that’s some miracle therapy: "[Rev. Ted] Haggard Says He Is "Completely Heterosexual" after just three weeks in Arizona . . . . . The California hitman contract called for, er, wasp-handling . . . . . A search-and-rescue official in New Zealand claimed that sometimes, when tourists get lost, they hide from rescuers because they’re afraid they’ll have to reimburse the costs [but I think it might be just a claim] . . . . . The gov’t of Nepal has granted a pre-op transsexual citizenship as a man, and citizenship as a woman, whichever fits at the time . . . . . Things You Didn’t Realize: The law in California and "most states" allows coroners to keep some body parts after autopsies, without notifying the family when they give the rest of the body back (and the San Mateo coroner has 105 pieces) . . . . . The Defense of Marriage Alliance in Washington state proposed legislation to require new husbands and wives to procreate within 3 yrs or forfeit their marital status (thus parrying one of the main arguments against same-sex marriage) . . . . . The Only Clever Criminals Are the Smugglers (continued): Dried prunes from Guyana, destined for Spain, were found to each contain 4.4g of cocaine . . . . . If you’ve got a medically-inserted "seton" for your "anal fistula," U.S. Customs agents (if not Homeland Security) are likely to (painfully) (very painfully) yank it out if they see it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Can’t Possibly Be True: The housing authority in the town of Loebau, Germany, has rules limiting welfare families to certain-size, small apartments, but it is currently short of those. Solution: Put about 100 families up in larger apartments but prohibit them (under threat of inspection) from using all the rooms. (Seriously)

The Arrangements Have Been Made (continued): FEMA is in the house, in Florida, after the wicked Groundhog Day Tornado that killed 19 and wrecked several hundred homes. Heaviest damage was around the town of Lady Lake, which is mostly middle-class and below, many mobile homes, and only a few homes destroyed in the upscale retirement community of The Villages, about 30 miles away. So where is FEMA set up (along with the insurance companies’ RV offices)? Oh, Lady Lake and environs have some FEMA reps traveling around passing out brochures, promising money-dispensing offices within two weeks, but if you need help before then, you can please drive to our office in The Villages (unless your car is still upside down, that is).

Editor’s Obsessions
San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom said yesterday that he was checking himself into alcohol rehab after last week being forced to admit that he had had an affair with the wife of his last campaign manager. He quick reported, however (as dedicated gov’t servants do), that he was not actually blaming alcohol for his indiscretion, even though he was. Mel Gibson was drunk, but the rehab he needed was not so much for alcohol but to control, oh, his ignorance about sampling size of ethnic populations involved in good and evil. U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy was drunk, but the rehab he needed was not so much for alcohol but to control his sense of privilege. Mark Foley was probably never drunk, and Gavin Newsom may not have been, either, but the rehab they need is not so much for alcohol but to control their dicks. Yr Editor never gets drunk anymore, but if I get to the point of needing rehab, it’ll be to control my manic enjoyment of schadenfreude (but if that gets to be too embarrassing, hell, I might blame it on beer).

Only if you get all of your news from News of the Weird have you not heard this one, but a married lady astronaut allegedly tried to kidnap a woman in a fit of jealousy over a married [CORRECTION: unmarried, but father of two] male astronaut, after driving from Houston to Orlando without stopping to pee (wearing astronauts’ diapers). And the perp is a babe, and the perp was one promotion away from wearing her first star.

Below The Fold
Kevin Pike and his wife Kimberly, in Columbus, Ind., were officially, judicially, declared stupid (and thus they get a lesser sentence on a drug charge) . . . . . New York City children’s services has removed a 20-month-old kid from the happy home of a former breatharian (subsisting only on air and light) guru who has at least moved on to a low-calorie-and-urine diet [from the print edition of the NY Post, 2-5-2007, but which has mysteriously disappeared without a trace from its website and search engines] . . . . . A man in Belle River, Ontario, died when his snowmobile hit a tree stump in a frozen lake (a stump that he had been campaigning for the gov’t to get rid of for three yrs) (but that he still hit, at 40 mph, around midnight) . . . . . A 254-lb. MIT stem-cell researcher has gone on a hunger strike, which will last, he said, until MIT finally admits that the reason it denied him tenure was racism . . . . . Liberty University (Lynchburg, Va., founder: J. Falwell) is considering awarding a free-ride scholarship to the winner of its proposed Cyberfest online gaming competition . . . . . Sounds Like a Joke: The daughter of two lawyers, in a class called "Portraits of the Virtuous Life" at St. Mary’s University (Winona, Minn.), got tired of classmates ragging on lawyers and punched one guy in the face.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"The Jewish School Where Half the Pupils Are Muslim": London’s Independent reports from thoroughly-Jewish King David primary in Birmingham, England, where Muslim parents fight to get their kids into the place because they so respect its ethos, and its halal-like kosher food, and they willingly learn Hebrew and celebrate Israeli independence day. Oh, the school also has a Muslim prayer room and brings in Muslim teachers during Ramadan, but otherwise, what the Muslims see is what they get, and they’re loving it.

"Where the Women Alone Choose Whom to Wed": That’s a Seattle Times hed on an AP story on one of the islands off the west African country of Guinea-Bissau (just below Senegal) where some women and men still cling to the tradition of ladies’ choice. But as westerners, especially tourists, roll in, they’ve brought western courtship traditions and, by the way, a higher divorce rate, because, the natives say, "Love comes first into the heart of the woman. Once it’s in the woman, only then can it jump into the man." "Now the world is upside-down," complained old-timer Cesar Okrane.

O.J. "Can’t Remember," Even When He’s Making Stuff Up? Leaked transcript excerpts of the ill-fated Fox TV interview that was to kick off publication of If I Did It apparently puts O.J. in the curious position of saying he couldn’t remember some details of things he, according to the book contract, was supposed to be making up in the first place. Asked whether he took off his glove before he grabbed the knife (handed to him by his accomplice, "Charlie," he said), he told interviewer Judith Regan, "You know, I had no conscious memory of doing that, but obviously I must have because they found a glove there." [Yo, O.J., you’re supposed to have "no conscious memory" of any of these things because they didn’t happen to you.]

We Report, You Decide: Are sex offenders recidivists? The NY Times isn’t helping us. Here are three successive sentences:
"Sex offenders have a lower recidivism rate of almost all serious offenders except murderers," [John Q.] La Fond [retired law professor and author] said, citing a Canadian study of nearly 24,000 sex offenders there and in the United States. Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law in Stony Brook, N.Y., called the Torrance [Calif.] decision to allow [a sex offender to volunteer at a school] unacceptable. Ms. Ahearn countered Mr. La Fond’s statistics, citing Department of Justice figures that sexual offenders have the highest recidivism rate of any felons.
Update
Just like clockwork, as news hit last week about ExxonMobil’s record-shattering profit ($40B in 2006), another report spilled out (two weeks early, as it turns out) about how they haven’t cleaned up all the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill. The last time the company broke the record for profits (in June, with half-yr profits of $18.7B), it had the courtesy to write Yr Editor a good story [NOTW 969, 9-3-2006] by continuing its Valdez court fight, resisting the Justice Dept. over continuing cleanup costs of $92M. The latest spill news isn’t quite as dramatic, though: Is 26,000 remaining gallons that bad when, according to ExxonMobil, it’s still on only 0.002 of the shore of Prince William Sound?

Below The Fold
Gastric-bypass (and associated) surgeries are increasing among all the little butterball urchins, out of fear that they’ll grow up to be morbidly obese . . . . . A Bosnian magazine reported that a nurse in the Kosevo hospital has narrowed down the possible father of her baby to no more than 20 doctors, and maybe just 15 . . . . . Awesome: Kid with a great story to tell some day, in that his mom just delivered him on the floor at the Resorts Atlantic City casino . . . . . Awesome II: Mexico’s Manuel Quiroz is looking for an official title somewhere as the habanero (red-hot chili pepper!)-eating champ, since they don’t seem to faze him, including when he squeezes the juice into his eyes . . . . . Near Round Rock, Tex., two free-lancers looking like traffic cops set up a sobriety checkpoint, but it appears that they were just trying to help . . . . . Yr Editor has seen stories of desperate individuals trying to extract methamphetamine from their own urine, but here was a whole lab, having somehow acquired fifty gallon-sized jugs of it . . . . . And here’s biology grad student Rebecca O’Flaherty, beholding the vastly underrated maggot, with which she’s so fascinated that she does maggot art.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

He also believes the Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes: President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia received a vision on January 18 (he’s long had psychic powers, he says) that he can cure asthma and HIV, but according to the vision, hours and patients are limited: Asthma, Fridays and Saturdays, 100-patient max, and HIV Mondays and Thursdays, 10-patient max. His secret visionary cure involves 7 herbs mentioned in the Quran. Cures within 3 days, guaranteed.

Everyone Has a Dark Side (continued): William French Anderson, 70, the "father of gene therapy," who was runner-up for Time magazine’s "Man of the Year" in 1995, was sentenced to 14 yrs in prison for his 4-yr "affair" with a co-worker’s daughter, starting at age 10.

Once again, only News of the Weird asks the tough question: London beauty salon proprietor Hari Salem now offers a 45-minute "Aberdeen Organic Hair" massage using a mixture of some plant root or other, plus deodorized bull semen, a product Salem swears has been successful in client after client. So, Salem was sitting around one day and says, "Gee, let me think of some substances that might make hair soft and shiny."

Below The Fold
A premier air accident investigator, reviewing an NTSB report on the non-fatal private-plane takeoff crash of pilot Andre Bauer (who is South Carolina’s lieutenant governor), said Bauer probably tried to take off without releasing the parking brake . . . . . Pervert or Alzheimer’s? An 89-yr-old man driving nude, with 100 nude photos of himself, actually may not have been up to anything . . . . . A squad of American Indians from eight nations is active in using ancestral hunting skills to help track down drug and human traffickers along the Arizona border . . . . . Cultural diversity: The consulate of India in San Francisco routinely tosses out paper records of Americans’ visa applications, explaining that "privacy" can’t be violated unless there are credit-card or Social Security numbers . . . . . Police in Lubbock, Tex., are holding a man who strung up wire at neck level on wilderness bike paths because all those recreation people are destroying nature . . . . . A registered sex offender was arrested for porn possession in Boulder, Colo., but, come on, all he wanted to do was print out pornography in the privacy of his own, er, public library . . . . . Weird hobby: Lincoln, Neb., authorities cleaning out a storage locker of a man who died last year found his collection of, er, 47 gravestones (all stolen) . . . . . Whatever substance it was, Yr Editor wants some: The man was sitting in a vehicle on the street, and suddenly his arms started "thrashing around," said a witness, like he was having a seizure, but it turns out he was just huffing something