Monday, December 21, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
December 21, 2009
(alarming and/or delicious news from December 12-19)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Health Care Follies (continued): (1) In Scotland, veterinarians felt sorry for "Eskimo," the reindeer, who was constantly bullied by his zoo mates because his "retained testicle" blocked hormones and made him less masculine. Hence, he has received the world's first reindeer laparoscopic surgery, to remove the testicle from his abdomen and set the chemicals free again. UK vets do 600,000 abdominal surgeries a year on pets. (2) One of the riskier jobs in the world is "interpreter" on U.S. payrolls in Iraq (about 8,000 Iraqis have been hired; 360 killed, 1,200 wounded). Thus, the U.S. buys life insurance on them for their families, but since the plan is administered through private U.S. companies, many claims get held up by company finger-waggers, looking to save money, according to a Los Angeles Times-ProPublica investigation. The companies won't pay unless they see documentation of exactly how the interpreter died. U.S. Army officers told the Times, basically, We don't always have documentation. It's a damn war zone! The Courier (Tayside and Fife) /// Los Angeles Times

Things Government Is/Isn't Good At (continued): Back in the U.S., controllers can direct a drone airplane halfway around the world to deliver a bomb on a certain house within the 168,000 square miles of Iraq (well, mostly, except for the collateral damage–), but six years later haven't gotten around to encrypting the signals from the drone, thus allowing Iraqi insurgents to pinpoint drone locations by using off-the-shelf computer programs like SkyGrabber ($25.95 from Softpedia.com). (And Wired.com's Danger Room blog reports the problem might even be more serious than that.) Wall Street Journal /// Wired.com

Bad Week for Justice: Two inmates who between them had spent 63 years in the slammer received "Oops, My Bad"'s from the justice system when DNA overcame obviously-shaky eyewitness ID on one and ridiculous hair-fiber "evidence" (perpetually overrated by forensic "experts") on the other. James Bain, released 35 years after a jury of Florida's finest declared it beyond any reasonable doubt that he raped a kid, said, Ehh, "Everybody had a job to do. The police needed a suspect. The prosecutor needed a conviction. The wheels turned." St. Petersburg Times [quoted in the print edition; quote missing from the archived online edition] /// Washington Post

"Old Media" / "New Media": In New Bedford, Mass., the public library imposed its maximum fine for a book that was 99 years overdue: $361.35. In Hayward, Calif., a 13-year-old girl over-data'ed during one month on her dad's cell phone, and he was billed $22,000. Boston Globe /// KTVU-TV (Oakland)

Sounds Like a Joke: U.S. surgeon Mark Weinberger, who had been on the lam for five years avoiding a flood of malpractice lawsuits, was spotted in Italy and about to be captured. However, rather than face justice, he tried to check out by stabbing himself in the throat, but as befitting an incompetent surgeon, he missed the key artery and is now in custody. The Guardian (London)

And another: The Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre in Norfolk, England, has lowered the water level in its giant aquarium for Christmas because the big turtles (herbivores) are getting their annual holiday treat of brussels sprouts. Officials know from experience that if they don't lower the water level, the gas bubbles from the powerful turtle emissions will raise the level enough to trigger the emergency tank-flooding buzzers. Daily Telegraph

It's Good to Be a British Criminal (continued): Three knife-wielding home invaders burst in on businessman Munir Hussain, his ill wife, and their three children, forced them to the floor, and enconstipated them with fear, but Hussain eventually gained the upper hand, chased them away, and beat one with a pole and a cricket bat. Hussain got 2½ years' hard time. The burglar (the one who got caught) got probation. The Independent

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

A female art teacher at W.T. White High School in Dallas, Tex., called the police on her student, Martin Guerrero, 17, whom she caught in the middle of class in full masturbatory mode. As she approached, he "began to moan and said 'aye mami,'" and kept right on going. Dallas Morning News

Japan Today reported that truck driver Yuuki Oshima, 22, was arrested for a November 19th incident in which he allegedly urinated though the mail slot in a woman's apartment door. Police said Oshima told them he did it out of unrequited love, that "I absolutely went crazy for her the first time I saw her." Japan Today

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]


Jason Burrelli, 29, was arrested in Tampa on a marijuana-possession warrant (from April). If you can get a close-up on the lower part of his whole-head tattoo, you'll see that it reads in script (seriously): "Everything happens for a reason." Indeed. St. Petersburg Times

People Different From Us

James Snell, 27, got a 10-year sentence as the wheel man for a gang of bank robbers when a witness noted that the getaway car had James's personalized license plate J4 MES. Daily Telegraph

Bad Lawyers! Bad! (1) Memphis trial lawyer Mark Lambert was charged with biting off part of a man's nose in a men's room fight, coming to the aid of two other men who were allegedly monopolizing a stall for non-excretory purposes. (2) Aaron Biber, in line to become president of the Minnesota Bar Association, was arrested for alleged sexual assault on an underage boy. Commercial Appeal /// Star Tribune

Over-the-top DJs at WFLZ-FM in Tampa, attempting to deep-fry a turkey on the air, set up a fryer in the station's van and helicopter-lowered a turkey into it. (If things had turned out well, the story wouldn't be here.) St. Petersburg Times

A clumsy New York City hit man killed three, apparently for a drug debt, but botched his escape and is no longer with us. First, while running away, he tripped over his baggy pants and fell, and was thereby forced into Plan B, which was the fire escape, but he fell three stories and landed "very dead," according to a woman on the ground. New York Daily News

Russell Vanderwerf, 44, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms official, faced several charges after making himself at home in a Residence Inn in a New Orleans suburb. Police said Vanderwerf, among other things, modified a room door to install a glory hole padded with duct tape. Times-Picayune

Recurring Theme: Comes now ex-South Dakota state representative Ted Klaudt (and currently long-time-to-be resident of the state corrections department after a rape conviction), who warned in a formal notice to the Associated Press and other media outlets that any use of the name "Ted Klaudt" without his permission would cost them $500,000 each time, for copyright violation. Sioux Falls Argus Leader

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Holiday gift suggestion from the Lloyd Platt law firm (specialty: divorce) in London: vouchers for a half-hour consultation. Cost £125 (compared to £170 street price). Agence France-Press via The Independent

Defining Academia Down: (1) A math professor at London's Royal Holloway College published a formula (with square roots!) for when to turn, and how sharply, to squeeze into any parallel parking space. (2) A professor at James Cook University in Australia, experimenting on 65 medical students, determined that it's almost twice as painful to remove a Band-Aid slowly than quickly. Daily Telegraph /// Australian Broadcasting Corp. News

Land-challenged Singapore is now down to one working cemetery, having already imposed burial limits (e.g., after 15 years, the body comes up) and "columbarias" (warehouses for urns). Next: Die in Singapore, get buried in . . New Zealand! New York Times

Left-wing radicals were convicted in Turkey (39 of them, at least, out of 1,223 originally charged) after a trial that lasted, all told, 27 years. The 39 were sentenced to life in prison for trying to topple the government in 1980. (NATO's been saying that Turkey should do something about that legal system.) BBC News

Australian jeweler Colin Burn announced plans to create the world's most luxurious personal vibrator (made of smooth platinum, with 1,500 diamonds). He thinks it'll retail for about a million bucks, give or take. Forbes

Eyewitness News

Jude Stringfellow of Oklahoma apparently won the dog custody battle described in News of the Weird in March [NOTW M102, 3-22-2009] and now owns Faith, the amazingly nimble two-legged dog. Los Angeles Times /// FaithTheDog.info

Jamie Cap is the quadriplegic fellow in Pro Edition [11-16-2009] who was judicially granted a gun permit so he could go hunting. He's pictured here with his wheelchair-mounted rifle and the tube he blows into to discharge it. Associated Press via YouTube [link from Nothing to Do With Arbroath blog]

More Things To Worry About

More "Intelligent Design": Nicholas Coke, of Pueblo, Colo., just celebrated his first birthday, but he wouldn't know how to celebrate it at any age because he has no . . no . . brain. All babies born with nothing at the end of their brain stem die right away, but not Nicholas. He's really a shell of a human being: nothing works. (Poor-taste comment on Fark.com: At least he's immune from zombies.) KOAA-TV (Colorado Springs)

Truck Spill: An 18-wheeler ran off the road on Interstate 24 in Nashville, spreading its cargo of adhesive all over the road. Dozens of drivers . . were stuck in traffic. WSMV-TV (Nashville)

Upon Further Review . . .

Here, for your Christmastime pleasure, is a 20-slide show of "caganers," which are, to refresh your memory of the NOTW story from last Christmas [NOTW M088, 12-14-2008], the ubiquitous icons that have populated most Nativity scenes in northeast Spain's Catalonia region for the last 300 years or so. "Caganers" are "always portrayed with pants down answering a call of nature (and often so obscured in the scene as to popularize where's-waldo-type guessing by children). The origin of the caganer (literally, "pooper") is unclear, but some regard it merely as symbolic of equality (in that everyone has bowel movements). Catalonia is now home to artists who craft statuettes of religious figures poised to relieve themselves, and the franchise extends to renditions of sports figures and celebrities (and even a squatting President Bush). One family in Girona province sells about 25,000 a year, according to a November 2008 dispatch in Germany's Der Spiegel." Daily Telegraph (London) /// Der Spiegel

Editor's Note

Pro Edition will not appear next week but will return bright and early on Monday morning, January 4, 2010. The standard News of the Weird column will be published as usual.

Newsrangers: Gary Hammond, Blake Palmer, Tom Barker, Rich Pevey, Pete Randall, Hal Dunham, and Becky Nelson, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition (Extra)
December 14, 2009
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd

Still More Things to Worry About

Theodore Sypnier is about to be released from prison, and Buffalo, N.Y., is in a tizzy. "Mr. Sypnier is the personification of evil and should be removed from civilized society permanently, until the day he dies," said the local prosecutor. Sypnier has a long rap sheet as a child molester, yet is unrepentant. Nothing about himself needs changing, he says. (Bonus: He's 100 yrs old.) (Double Bonus: At least Sypnier didn't murder anyone, as this 98-year-old woman allegedly did.) Buffalo News /// Associated Press via Fox News

Update: Your Editor has reported before on the baby blessings at the Sri Santeswar temple in India's Karnataka state, in which good health and good luck will be dispensed to tots (mostly under age 2) who get tossed from the top of the 30-foot-high building. They always manage to catch the kids, but opponents are on the verge of having the ritual banned. Daily Telegraph (London)

Yitzhak Ganon, 85, finally went to see a doctor, in Petach Tikva, Israel, because of a life-threatening infection. It was his first doctor visit in 65 years, since he once had a bad experience (in Auschwitz, Germany, when Dr. Joseph Mengele removed one of his kidneys without anesthesia). Spiegel Online

Fine Points of the Law: Fast food restaurants can still keep mobility-scooter people out of the drive-thru lanes, on safety grounds, even though Ms. Ariel Wade, a 60-ish former stripper with a rough edge to her, disagrees [on the video]. City Pages (Minneapolis) /// Dlisted.com [video]

Gerald Cellette Jr., 44, accused of running a $53 million Ponzi scheme in Minnesota, must've had a sense of doom at the charges. He was found knocking on the door of a judge's chambers in Minneapolis, ready to go to prison, i.e., pre-arrest, pre-plea, pre-judgment, pre-sentence. Star Tribune

The District of Calamity: The D.C. Jail is so unsecured that guards just recently found a handgun lying around and have concluded that it has probably been lying around since 2003, when it was stashed as part of a notorious scheme in which guns were smuggled to inmates, who agreed to shoot themselves, in order to set up a big damages payout from the District. Washington Post

Here is the Med-ucation Blog's 25 Oddest Objects Ever Eaten (by Humans), and it looks like a pretty good job (and not a slide show!). Med-ucation

Daniel Shilts Jr., 36, Waldo, Wis., was sentenced (again) for DUI, but this one got him hard time, in that he pressure-peed the back of an officer's head in the squad car. Sheboygan Press via New York Daily News

Additional Newsrangers: Thomas Goodey, Jimmy Atkinson

Monday, December 14, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
December 14, 2009
(mordant and/or stupefying news from December 4-12)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

The power of personal belief continues to trump common sense. A U.S. Treasury agent told a reporter that many more deluded people continue to believe in all sincerity that, to get out of debt, they can merely compose their own "private offset bonds" or "bond promissory notes" and send them off to a grateful Bank of America et al. It never occurs, even, to ask why the sellers of the seminars and guidebooks on how to do these thing accept only cash. One guy who used such a "bond" on a federal tax lien was hauled into court by IRS but patiently explained to the judge that the main problem here was that "your clerks may not be familiar with these type of instruments and do not know how to handle them." St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Hustler creator Larry Flynt was in court last week testifying against his nephews Jimmy Flynt and Dustin Flynt for producing pornography under the family name. Larry said their product didn't measure up to the exquisite quality of porn that consumers have come to expect from "Flynt." Explained Larry, they're "focusing on the boob element, so to speak. I just think that's sort of passé" Similarly(?), the world-famous Lincoln Center (for the Performing Arts in New York City) formally threatened litigation against the Lincoln County Multi-Purpose Facility in Brookhaven, Miss. (pop. 9,800), for referring to the facility locally as the "Lincoln Center." Los Angeles Times /// Daily Leader (Brookhaven)

Things Government Is/Isn't Good At (continuing series): The SEC couldn't catch Bernard Madoff, but IRS nailed Rachel Porcaro, who makes $19,000 a year cutting hair, which IRS auditors said was too little taxable income for her demographic. (She and her kids live in her parents' house, but in that case, IRS said she paid the parents below-market rent and therefore shouldn't have claimed the kids as dependents. So, she's toast. IRS levied her the equivalent of a year's wages.) And while many people had their time wasted at an airport last week, pulled out of line for random searches, someone at the Transportation Security Administration accidentally posted TSA's entire airport screening procedures manual online (leading, of course, to the totally implausible reassurance by the agency that no harm was done). Seattle Times /// ABC News

And while state and local government employees (the people who most affect Americans' quality of life) get laid off and furloughed, with consequent reduction of services, the number of federal employees making $100,000-plus salaries has rocketed up (e.g., Defense Department, from 1,800 such employees in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009; Transportation Department, from 1 person making $170,000-plus in December 2007 to 1,690 in June 2009). (And the numbers don't even include overtime or bonuses.) USA Today

Taking a break from the world's other crises, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education last week issued a major policy pronouncement: The "mythical status" of the hymen "has caused far too much harm for far too long," and from now on, it shall be known not as the hymen but as the "vaginal corona." The Local (Stockholm)

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

"Green Balloons": That was, claims former Missouri Speaker of the House (of Representatives) Rod Jetton, the "safe word" that his alleged S&M sex partner was supposed to utter to get Jetton to stop "S"-ing on her poor "M" body. Not hearing the words, Jetton claims, he beat her up something awful. She says she doesn't know what Jetton is talking about and that he knocked her unconscious because he likes his sex rough. (Bonus: As a legislator, Jetton condemned homosexuals for practicing "deviate" sex.) Kansas City Star

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]


Andrew Wirth, 24, was charged with murdering two people (one an off-duty cop) who he thought were playing non-consensual grab-ass with him at a bar. Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee)

People Different From Us

Elise Egan, 53, was charged with assaulting her boyfriend in the face repeatedly with a raw steak "so that he could learn" not to be so obstinate in demanding a bread roll instead of sliced bread. Associated Press via Fox News [with mug shot!]

Charles Irving, 27, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, which he tried to justify by pointing out that he needed to protect his mother from vampires. Plus, he was naked. Kansas City Star

Recurring Themes in Incompetent Criminality: (1) Michael Hamilton, 30, called the cops on his landlord for confiscating his pet fish, even though Michael was sitting on five outstanding arrest warrants. (2) Douglas Lloyd, 57, was discovered stuck in a ground-floor window at a Seattle museum, half-in, half-out, and was arrested for burglary. (3) Three people were arrested for marijuana trafficking in Parkersburg, W.Va., when their car engine caught fire (because that's where a duffel bag of dope had been cleverly stashed). (4) Tita Nyambi, 25, of Franklin, N.J., became the latest guy to dress up as his mother, use a bad high-pitched voice, and try to withdraw money from mom's checking account. Ann Arbor News /// Seattle Times /// News & Sentinel (Parkersburg) /// Newark Star-Ledger

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

A Taiwan politician was indicted because last year in a heated argument, he yanked the wig off of a fellow politician and then, this year, bragged about it during his campaign for Tainan City council. Agence France-Presse via Sydney Morning Herald

To hold a United Nations climate-change summit in Copenhagen requires a 41,000-ton carbon footprint: 1,200 limousines, 140 private jets. On the other hand, the Inuit communities of Greenland and Canada want quick action, specifically, a shipment of electric freezers to store their fresh-catch caribou, since it's too warm to leave them outside as usual.) Daily Telegraph (London) /// Reuters via New York Times

Federal officials held a day-long seminar in Washington on how to administer the Freedom of Information Act. It was closed to the public. WJLA-TV (Washington, D.C.)

The Ganja Gourmet opened in Denver—the nation's first full-service restaurant serving marijuana-baked dishes (provided you have a prescription; otherwise, you get the shirley-temple version). KCNC-TV (Denver)

Cecil Bothwell, running for city council in Asheville, N.C., is a self-described atheist. Opponents point out that it's unconstitutional in North Carolina for an atheist to hold public office. However, supporters point out that it's unconstitutional in the entire United States for North Carolina be that way. Opponents say they don't care. Citizen-Times (Asheville)

Life Is Too Long: Mathematicians discuss, on and on, the "perfect" way to slice a pizza. New Scientist

It's Good to Be an Underachieving British Schoolkid: Most of the state schools surveyed admitted they rig the curriculum so as not to make the academically ungifted feel bad. Daily Mail

Below The Fold

"Foster Kids Treated to 'Slapstick Orgasm,' Swearing in Christmas Play" Herald Sun (Melbourne)

"Boise Firefighters Rescue Boy Whose Tongue Was Stuck to Metal Pole" Idaho Statesman

"No More Endangered Eel at Top Supermarket" Reuters

"The Only Two Men in the UK Named Geraint Woolford End Up in Adjacent Hospital Beds" Daily Mail

"Pie Eating Competitors to Be Drug Tested" Lancashire Evening Post

More Things To Worry About

A 46-year-old man in Eerbeek, Netherlands, reported that his house had been broken into and 2,400 (illegal) Ectasy pills had been stolen—but that he is not a user or dealer, but merely a collector. He likes the colors and the various brand names. However, he warned that about 40 of the pills (the "red & whites") were probably exceptionally toxic by now. Australian Associated Press via Australian Broadcasting Corp.

True or false, you can make a decent living cashing in discarded winning tickets off the floor at a New York City OTB store? How does $45,000 a year sound? New York Times

Your Editor is following several suspicious stories that cannot quite be vouched for yet: (1) 'Ukrainian Student Killed by Exploding Chewing Gum" (A student in the habit of dipping his gum in citrus juice for flavoring accidentally dipped it into another chemical in the lab, which blew his jaw off and killed him.) [The NOTW Science Editor says it's not totally impossible but just highly unlikely that any lab worker would leave a chemical that unstable out in the open.] (2) "Chinese Man Gets Remote Control Stuck in Bottom After Drunk Prank" (London's Mirror is there, with x-rays.) (3) Another special that only the Austrian Times has: Chinese truck driver Sing Li's windshield got blown out, forcing him to use a sheet of cardboard (as you can see) to keep rain and debris out and for him to drive while peering out the driver's side window. RIA Novosti (Moscow) /// The Mirror /// Austrian Times

Upon Further Review . . .

Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, so this Mursi tribeswoman from Ethiopia's Omo River Valley must be highly desirable—either a hot chick or an elegant lady. The same must be true for the hunk-like men). [Some images Not Safe For Work, in a National Geographic-kind of way] Life magazine

Newsrangers: Peter Hine, Larry Seltzer, Matt Rushing, Steve Whipple, Jenny Morlan, Hal Dunham, Michael Ravnitzky, and Jim Snedden, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, December 07, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
December 7, 2009
(bewildering and/or outrageous news from November 28-December 5)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Weekly Gold

Capitalism is eternal, even in Somalia, where a "stock market" for investing in the pirate industry might be the only thing in that anarchic country that actually works. People bring their venture capital (including guns and pirate accessories), lay it down among the 72 companies on the big board, and cash out their tickets if their ship comes in. In fact, befitting this era, there even seems to be a Bubble! As the exchange has grown, pirates' ransoms have doubled, to about $4 million per ship. One savvy Somalian says he's made $75,000 in just 38 days in the market. Reuters

Denver, Colo., UFO enthusiast Jeff Peckman is back in the news, having gathered enough signatures for a city ballot question next year on whether to establish an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission, to develop protocols for "diplomatic contact" when the ETs land. In 2008, Peckman famously staged a news conference, having promised to release a smoking-gun video of an ET visit, but he produced only ridicule. (Also last week, Britain's Ministry of Defense closed its UFO unit after 50 years, and in Mesa, Ariz., the school district's information technology officer resigned after inadvertently overwhelming the district's computer system by installing a personal copy of a software program that networks computers searching the skies for alien radio transmissions.) Los Angeles Times /// Bad Astronomy blog [2008 press conference] /// The Independent (London) /// East Valley Tribune (Mesa)

Safety First in Britain (continued): In an episode begging to be Pythoned, inspectors from the government's Health and Safety Executive (in Fleet Street jargon, Elf & Safety Executive) thoroughly examined a bowling alley and expressed alarm that bowlers might injure themselves if they walked down the lanes and tried to knock over the pins by hand. Inspectors suggested, among other safety improvements, shields to block access to lanes except for doggy-door-like space on the floor to roll the balls. (Also, town managers in Poole, England, installed a super-safe Christmas "tree" that was actually a giant metal cone covered in astroturf. It won't fall over on top of anyone, and there are no needles to get stuck in people's eyes or decorations to be hung using dangerous stepladders.) Daily Mail /// The Times

A University of Montreal professor, intending to measure the specific effects of pornography on men, had to scrap the study because he couldn't find any non-users for his control group. Not a one, he said. "Guys who do not watch pornography do not exist." Montreal Gazette

A group of civic activists will start running L.A. Gang Tours in January, through South Los Angeles and Watts ($65 a ticket) and has been negotiating with Crips, Bloods, Florencia 13, and 18th Street gangs to give the buses a pass when they roll through the 'hoods. They'll peddle merchandise, too, but not the T-shirt originally proposed, where the promoters would pay kids to blast the tourists with water pistols and then sell them shirts that read "I Got Shot in South-Central." Los Angeles Times

Updates: (1) That Peruvian gang that kills people for their fat [Pro Edition, 11-23-2009] probably either doesn't exist or kills them for other reasons. (2) That gender-issues-enlightened Swedish male college student who started pumping his breasts in September [NOTW M129, 9-27-2009] officially gave up in futility. (3) The inept robber who begged for his life when deli owner Mohammad Sohail wrestled his gun away during a robbery (and even promised to convert to Islam on the spot if Sohail wouldn't shoot him) [NOTW M119, 7-19-2009] sent Sohail $50, told him he had turned his life around, and signed it Your Muslim Brother. Time magazine /// The Local (Stockholm) /// WNBC-TV (New York City)

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

Stuart Leonard became the latest fatality in the sport of auto-asphyxiation, which his partner said was surely an accident, in that Mr. Leonard's body was found at his favorite sex-play hideout: "If we had an argument, that's how he would spend the evening." The Argus (Brighton, England)

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]


Here's a challenge: Do you hold Christopher Haentzler, 20, responsible for robbing the Caseyville (Ill.) Food Mart? He said he was forced into it by another man. Belleville News-Democrat

Sub-Prime Americans

Travis Himmler, 23, Bloomington, Minn., was charged with burglary of the Golden Wok restaurant and theft of its cash register, which he carried away on his bicycle. He was discovered down the road after a nasty spill from the bike. The dangling cord from the cash register had got caught in the spokes. Sun Newspapers (Eden Prairie, Minn.)

A Denton, Tex., woman became the victim of a free-lance, door-to-door massage artist whom she let into her home (He "seemed legitimate," she told cops) when he explained that he was just trying to get in some massage hours toward his license. She got an inkling that he wasn't legit only when he asked her to supply her own lotion and told her she had "nice tits." The Smoking Gun

Least Competent Criminals: (1) Brier Cutlip, 22, and Paul Bragg, 25, on parole and barred from possessing guns, were re-arrested when they showed up for a parole appointment still wearing their orange hunting vests after a full day in the woods. (2) Grandville Lindsey, 30, in Beaumont, Tex., was on probation, barred from using Internet "social" sites. But then he Twittered a woman in the probation office, and his probationary status was upgraded to "15 years in prison." (3) Two men who managed to get away after robbing the SunTrust Bank in Dunkirk, Md., nonetheless belong in this category, in that they had wasted valuable time before the robbery when they barged into the Lee Funeral Home next door, apparently thinking it was the bank. WBOY-TV (Morgantown, W.Va.) /// Beaumont Enterprise /// WTTG-TV (Washington, D.C.)

Jason Zacchi, 27, tried to rob a Wendy's in Dearborn Heights, Mich., via the drive-thru window, with a bandanna over his face, and a shotgun, but suddenly the manager on duty stuck her head out the window and challenged him. "What the hell are you doing?" she screamed. Bandanna or not, a mother recognizes her own son, and she turned him in. Detroit News

Rance Johnson, 19, an inmate at the county jail in Merced, Calif., went on sick call with excruciating pain. Earlier, on the floor of the visitation room, he had found a five-inch-long shank, which he then tucked away for safekeeping in the place where inmates keep things that are dear to them, but that didn't work out. Merced Sun-Star

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Sweden, trying to improve North Korea's childlike understanding of global markets, convinced a company to make designer jeans for the Swedish market. After much comical bumbling and opaque corporate communication by the Koreans, "Noko" jeans finally arrived in Sweden, selling alongside Levi's and Guess, and retailing for the equivalent of about $215. New York Times

[UPDATE: The Swedish contract retailer now says the jeans won't be on the shelves but can be ordered from its website. BBC News]

There's now an App for uninvited Mexicans. An art professor at the University of California, San Diego, created the Transborder Immigrant Tool, using GPS to find the safest places to cross the border and get through the rugged Southwest desert. (It's not clear which cell phones it will work with.) Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle

Mr. Zhang admits he's competitive, that he "never wants to lose an argument" with his wife—and thus always winds up with "bruises and scars all over." (Mrs. Zhang is a kung fu master.) As potential relief (after negotiations led by the in-laws), she has entered into a contract that permits her to beat up her husband only once a week. If more than that, she pays. Daily Telegraph (London) (citing Chongqing Evening News)

Paraguay's choice to head its consulate in New York City is an illegal immigrant. Arturo Noguera lived here for 17 years, then left, and now is not permitted back in the U.S. to claim his new office. The U.S. Congressman representing New York City's Paraguayan community now suggests that Paraguay retaliate by expelling the inconsiderate U.S. consulate official in Asuncion who denied Noguera's visa. Time magazine

Eyewitness News

Jalopnik blog published the sweet spot on the Facebook page of the daughter of the General Motors CEO who "resigned" last week. She is disagreeable on the subject. [language warning!] Jalopnik.com

A big Internet hit last week was this apparently-legit snapshot, from an American Airlines flight attendant who wanted to dramatize to the company's suits how much trouble is caused by a seriously-obese passenger on a full flight. Irish Independent

Argentine democracy meets WWE chairs-match action, in the provincial parliament in Chaco. BBC News [30-second ad precedes video]

More Things To Worry About

Brandon Deyo, 21, was arrested in Jupiter, Fla., on several child pornography charges. He is the son of David Deyo, who's serving 17 years in federal lockup for manufacturing child pornography. (Bonus: Before his conviction, David's part-time job was "Noodles the Clown.") Palm Beach Post

The Denver (Colo.) School Board hired a professional marriage counselor to help members get along with each other. KMGH-TV (Denver)

The city government in the Chinese city of Dali, in Yunnan province went into the retail business by opening . . a gay bar. Reuters

Upon Further Review . . .

Illustrative passages from American novelist Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones, the winner of this year's Bad Sex in Fiction award from Britain's Literary Review: "I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg." Then, later: "[A woman's genitalia resembles] a Gorgon's head . . . a motionless Cyclops whose single eye never blinks. If only I could still get hard, I thought, I could use my prick like a stake hardened in the fire, and blind this Polyphemus who made me Nobody. But my cock remained inert, I seemed turned to stone." The Guardian

Editor's Notes

(1) In both News of the Weird [M138, 11-29-2009] and Pro Edition [10-5-2009], I reported on HoneyBaked Ham's firing of store manager Richard Huether, who had failed to recuperate fast enough after taking a bullet for the company in a store robbery in April. Even though he was left with company-paid disability insurance, and would now be eligible for Social Security disability, he would immediately be subject to paying 100 percent of his "COBRA" health-care premium (for 18 months, after which he would have to purchase non-group insurance, which would suddenly be priced to account for his "pre-existing condition," i.e., "was shot in stomach"). HoneyBaked now informs Your Editor that, following the initial report on WRAL-TV (on which the News of the Weird story was based), the company, professing to have been unaware before then of the depth of Huether's financial hole, gave him an additional check for "more than $20,000," to cover COBRA premiums for 18 months. But, he remains fired.

(2) Four candidates with the Classic Middle Name were in the news last week. The now-executed Bobby W. Woods of Texas had already made the list when arrested and so cannot be added. Darry W. Hanna was convicted in a "death," but can't be listed because the most that federal prosecutors could get was "conspiracy," since a state court had already acquitted Hanna of the actual murder. However, Bart W. Johnson of Alabama (arrested) and Jason W. Strickland of North Carolina (committed suicide while a suspect) appear to be clean additions (although Strickland's suicide was in August, very much outside Pro Edition's boundary). Associated Press via Houston Chronicle [Woods] /// Charlotte Observer [Hanna] /// Birmingham News [Johnson] /// The State (Columbia, S.C.) [Strickland]

Newsrangers: Jamie Wilson, Pete Randall, Peter Hine, Sandy Pearlman, Larry Lee, Jeromy Tichner, Stephen Taylor, Michael Willis, and Neil Gimon, and the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Geoffrey Egan, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and the News of the Weird Editorial Advisors (Paul Blumstein, John Cieciel, Harry Farkas, Fritz Gritzner, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Steve Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Rob Snyder, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition (Extra)
November 30, 2009

Because of the U.S. holiday, last week was slow, at least for U.S. news, and I had to stretch my standards to produce a regular-length Pro Edition. After staring for two days at the "Extra" stories I had for follow-up release today, I have concluded that they're too lame to go out under my banner. See ya next Monday morning.

Monday, November 30, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
November 30, 2009
mystifying and/or derisory news from November 21-28)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Weekly Gold

A news leak from the Vatican's file nominating Pope John Paul II for sainthood had a high-ranking nun saying she had heard him in the next room a few times self-flagellating [No snickering!], i.e., lashing himself in remorse as bodily penance. She said he mainly did it just before ordaining bishops and priests. Daily Telegraph (London) /// BBC News [background on Catholic self-flagellation]

Pregnant Sara Foss, 39, keeps a spotless house because she doesn't want people to think she's a mooching slob, since she takes £50,000 per year ($82,000) in assistance from the government for raising her 13 kids. Nonetheless, she's adamant. If her current pregnancy does not yield twins, she'll try, try again, and again. (Bonus: Her story caused quite a stir in the British press, for the names of the first 13, which are mostly tributes to her favorite film and literary characters, such as Frodo, Morpheus, Echo, Malachai, Rogue, and Voorhes.) Daily Mail

The high-end fashion store Valentina announced that it had reached a settlement on an out-of-control tab run up by Oprah Winfrey . . 's mother (Vernita Lee of Milwaukee), who owed $155,000 as of July 2008. Their dispute came because Valentina had taken Lee to court in 2002 over a separate, $174,000 tab, but then once again extended her credit. Lee refused to pay, accusing Valentina of exploiting her absence-of-willpower disability. Journal Sentinel

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

Kevin Derks, 53, Kenosha, Wis., looks like a regular guy but is actually highly irregular. He swears up and down that he has never touched, or even approached, an underage girl. It's just that his apartment is arranged as, according to one detective, a "shrine" to little girls: pictures and posters of famous girls, snapshots of clothed little girls, a bed full of stuffed toys, adolescent-sized mannequins in provocative positions, and traditional child pornography. "This was my own world," he told detectives. "I knew what I was doing. I took a gamble. It's like going to Vegas, except I lost everything. [N]ow my ass is gonna fry." Associated Press via Post Crescent (Appleton, Wis.)

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]


Guilty? Randy Willgues, 32, is charged in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, with stalking a woman. Akron Beacon Journal

What Randy Cliett is charged with is No Longer Weird according to News of the Weird standards. He might have tried to burglarize a business by coming in through a vent but got stuck . . overnight. The fellow who runs the delightful Weekly Vice blog has collected Cliett's previous mug shots, which are presented here for evolutionary insight. Orlando Sentinel /// TheWeeklyVice.com

Sub-Prime Americans

Michael Sampson, 41, chose to go to trial in Salina, Kan., for the crimes of littering and driving on a suspended license, but before it was over, he was facing serious felonies. When the Mafia needs to influence witnesses, they tend to do it behind the scenes, but Sampson, sitting at the defendant's table, allegedly made point-and-shoot gestures, and throat-slashing gestures, at a woman on the witness stand. KSAL Radio (Salina)

Vincent Salters, 46, "shopping" in Knoxville, Tenn., at the Shoe Show on Tuesday, impulsively grabbed seven shoes on display and fled the store, outrunning security. However, they were all "lefts." He was arrested on Wednesday when he returned to the scene of the crime (possibly to grab some "rights"). Knoxville News Sentinel

Things People Believe: (1) Kyung Song Kil was arrested in downtown Washington, D.C., after tossing two Molotov cocktails into the street, which he thought was a good way to convince the government to give him the $200 million he says it owes him for "harassment." (2) James Kromer, 36, was arrested after crashing his car into the Physicians & Surgeons Capital Corp. building in Minneapolis. He explained that he did it because the FBI was inside reading his thoughts and sending him obnoxious messages. WTTV (Washington) /// WCCO-TV (Minneapolis)

From the Clovis News Journal (Clovis, N.M.) Police Report: "The woman . . . said the 38-year-old man had come into the bathroom while she was using it and had grabbed and twisted her nose until she could hear the bones and cartilage cracking. The man was arrested for aggravated assault." Clovis News Journal [3rd item]

The Nampa, Idaho, police are looking for the man who robbed a convenience store Sunday. That's he in the surveillance video, wearing the plaid bathrobe and flip-flops. And here's this guy, who robbed the Santa Barbara Bank & Trust in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and who appears to be . . crying. [There's no crying in bank robbery!] Idaho Statesman /// KTLA-TV (Los Angeles)

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

It's a bad year to be an animal in Nepal. Every five years, in the village of Bariyapur, Hindus behead 250,000 critters to honor Gadhimai, a goddess of power. "Thousands" of buffalo were up first. A cab driver explained to a reporter for London's Guardian: "If we want anything, and we come here with an offering to the goddess, within five years all our dreams will be fulfilled." The Guardian

Must . . Obey . . Rules: The prime minister of the south Pacific island-nation of Vanuatu was bounced from the parliament only because he had missed three consecutive sessions without bringing a note from home. (Seriously.) Parliament will elect a successor this coming week. The Times (London)

A 72-year-old pig farmer in Craigmuir, Scotland, has gone to a lot of trouble over the last seven years to protest his local council's refusal to make repairs to his home (apparently, the plumbing). Lately, he has been saving up his sewage (not the pigs' but his own) and leaving it around town, with 80 barrels' worth on reserve on his property, which bothers the neighbors more than it bothers him. BBC News [with photo of the kind of man who would save his own sewage, for years on end]

There Will Be Lashes: Twelve people were arrested in Tehran, at a wife-swapping party. (Actually, under sharia, there may also be stones!) Australian Associated Press via Sydney Morning Herald

Eyewitness News

Fox News last week dropped this bizarre slide show on us, from the ongoing Census of Marine Life (Univ. of Rhode Island/National Geographic), featuring 22 candidates perhaps for the next Aliens movie or perhaps to showcase "intelligent design" in action. [But to their mommas, they're beautiful.] Fox News

More Things To Worry About

Breast-reduction surgery . . for dogs: They are retired Labrador rescue dogs that have sagging folds of skin after years of "overbreeding," and a kennel near Brentwood, England, is springing for cosmetic surgery to improve their looks, for adoption. Daily Telegraph

It's Good to Be a British Prisoner (continued): The warden at Kirkham prison near Preston came up with a fund-raising idea: sell tickets for £1 each to the inmates, from their allowances, and the winner of the raffle gets a day off, i.e., "See ya back here tonight, OK?" (The warden changed his mind a few days later.) Daily Mail

Government-Sponsored Sex Education in Thailand: Not only do men need to always wear condoms, but the condoms must fit properly. Consequently, the government's passing out disposable paper measuring tapes (49mm width to 56mm width) (though without instructions on what 48s and 57s should do). Asia One (Singapore)

A farmer in Axedale, Australia, called firefighters to report a gas leak, but the arriving firemen immediately sensed the source: a 265-lb. sow. Said one, "I don't know what they were feeding this thing, but we certainly heard it." [Link Fixed] Sydney Morning Herald

Upon Further Review . . .

Life magazine called them 30 "dumb inventions" that had run in its pages, as dynamic breakthroughs, in the years before 1970. Dumb? All are quite remarkable, but try these for 5-star status: Curved Barrel Machine Gun (for firing around corners) /// L. Ron Hubbard's Electrometer (to detect whether tomatoes feel pain when sliced) (They do!) /// Rainy Day Cigarette Holder (a parasol over the lighted end to keep it dry) /// Cigarette Pack Holder (smoke all 20 at once) /// Cigarette Holder Built for Two /// Baby Cage (to hang the tot out the window of a high-rise, to get some fresh air) /// Beating Breasts (they look like breasts and have a "heartbeat," to help lull babies to sleep)

Editor's Notes

(1) A website called Tableseed.com, which provides e-mail birthday clubs to promote restaurants, went off-label last week for publicity and released its findings on 2,000 stories that ran on the Associated Press Strange News wire over the past 12 months, so that it could anoint (per capita) the weirdest state and the weirdest city. Winning state? You need to ask? Second, though, was New Hampshire, and third, Alaska. New York City won, followed by Lincoln, Neb., and Madison, Wis. The top two things "wrong" with this report are: (1) AP editors' ideas of "strange" are often pretty tame for us Pro Weirdos, and (2) The origin of a story depends heavily on the availability of weird-qualified AP stringers, and some locales are dry. (News of the Weird's network is so-o-o-o much better.) Tableseed.com/strange/

(2) All over the news this week was the saga of Mr. Rom Houben of Brussels, Belgium, who was in a coma for 23 years and now "says" that he was conscious the whole time but just couldn't express himself. The Pharyngula blog points out, though, that we only "know" that because an attendant guides Houben's fingers over a keyboard and somehow detects sensations on which keys Houben wants pressed to form his words. There is also the issue of whether he's responding in English or Belch—er, Flemish. Medical "miracles" (i.e., occurrences that science cannot yet explain) happen all the time, but that doesn't mean they happen all the time. The jury is still out. Daily Mail (London) [first report] /// Pharyngula

Newsrangers: Steve Dunn, Eugenia Schenecker, Eric Swanson, John Wildenthal, Tom Barker, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition (Extra)
November 23, 2009
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Still More Things to Worry About

Unclear on the Concept: For two years, until recently, U.S. Marines being treated at Camp Lejeune for post-traumatic stress disorder from the war were housed in thin-walled trailers close to a firing range and bomb-testing. In fine government tradition, the story only became public when a civilian contract doctor was fired for complaining about it too much. Associated Press via WNCT-TV (Greenville, N.C.)

Jury Duty Extra: Of course, the U.S. legal system is derived from English law, so here's an accused bank robber from Whitefield, Manchester, Mr. David Holyoak, 33 [and pay no attention to the impertinent editorial comment from Metro.co.uk]. Metro (London)

Coolest Parents: Sherri and Tom Milley, lawyers in Calgary, Alberta, brought their two kids' local school authorities to their knees. They actually worked out a complex legal document that frees their kids from having to do homework. Awesome! There's more to the story than that, but still –. The Globe & Mail

Chutzpah!: An ex-cop and his ex-chief filed for compensation from the city of Stoughton, Mass., after they were fired following their convictions for attempted extortion. They demand their accrued vacation time and sick leave, plus all that overtime they put in preparing to defend themselves against the extortion charges. Brockton Enterprise.

Government Failure: When the treasury was fat back during the real estate boom, the Florida legislature thought it crucially important to keep experienced bureaucrats from retiring and so passed a super-generous incentive plan that now doesn't look so good. A community college president, Ann McGee, 60, is the latest beneficiary. She makes $230,000 a year and will retire at the end of the year — for 30 days, after which she'll be back at work collecting her salary. The 30-day layoff entitles her to collect $390,000 in advance retirement pay, which only docks her original retirement pay period for 32 months. News 13 (Bright House Cable News, Orlando)

Police Blotter (from the 11-18-2009 Minneapolis Star Tribune (reporting a crime in Apple Valley on 10-13-2009): "Officers responded to a report that a man was sitting on the curb in front of his house talking to himself. When officers arrived they found a very intoxicated man who wanted officers to drive him to Washington, D.C., so that he could discuss the country's military involvement in the Middle East with President Obama. Instead he was taken to detox." Star Tribune

Update: The Dept. of Corrections police dog handlers in Powhatan County, Va., who were caught intimately fondling their best friend/colleague for as-yet-uncertain reasons (kinky? hazing? just being friendly?) [NOTW/Pro, 11-2-2009] will not be prosecuted for the obvious reason that it's against the law only to be "cruel" to animals. WRC-TV (Washington, D.C.)

Can't Possibly Be True: For 13 years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been milking undercover work by illegal Salvadorean immigrant Ernesto Gamboa in securing drug convictions (contributing to 90 convictions and the seizure of weapons, money, vehicles, and at least 282 lbs. of cocaine). He now has a modest request: He'd like to be sponsored for citizenship. No can do, said ICE and the U.S. Attorney in Seattle. In fact, said ICE, prepare to be deported. Seattle Times

Mean Streets: Jamar Pinkney Sr., 37, of suburban Detroit is a piece of work. The mother of his 15-year-old son told Jamar that the kid had confessed to having had "inappropriate contact" with his 3-year-old half-sister. That was enough for Jamar. He took the kid to a vacant lot, had him kneel, and executed him with a single shot in the head. ABC News

Additional Newsrangers: Gary Goldberg, Dave Wickstrom, and Justin Bennett

Monday, November 23, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
November 23, 2009
(ludicrous and/or disquieting news from November 14-21)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Weekly Gold

And Gen. McChrystal Thinks He Has a Tough Job: "We want [buzkashi] to become an Olympic sport," said the head of the Buzkashi Foundation, who is the promoter-in-chief of Afghans' traditional national sport. The main problem, though, is that the game is basically anarchy. One horseback rider needs to hand-carry a goat carcass the length of the field, around a flag, and back before other riders, using any tactic short of homicide, stop him. The time limits vary, and frequently the boundary lines are disrespected, sending spectators fleeing. The Foundation wants to corporatize the sport, with businessmen entertaining clients at matches like U.S. executives do in stadiums' luxury suites. USA Today

(Totally) Unclear on the Concept: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded money for bonuses (up to $3,000 each) to excellent teachers, including about 200 in Boston, but the Boston Teachers Union says the 200 can't take the cash. The union's rationale goes something like this: Oh, we're for excellence, too, but if you're basing that on whether students succeed, and thus reward their teachers, you have to understand that successful kids have had many other teachers, too. Therefore, bonuses must be given to all teachers. Boston Herald

The State of Scholarship, 2009: "Experts" at England's Leeds University, fastidiously documenting their observations, can now conclude, as cutting-edge academic research, that women seeking to attract men socially should dress baring about 40 percent of their bodies. More than that, too slutty; less than that, priggish. 40 percent. Daily Telegraph

The Way The World Works (why the African people are still dirt-poor despite the continent's rich natural resources): (1) The president of Senegal has decided the best way to help his people is to build a huge bronze statue in Dakar that celebrates "African renaissance" and is so impressive that tourists and businesses will flock to it, creating commercial opportunities. And even though he came up with the idea, President Wade selflessly is only going to take 35% of the income the site generates, in perpetuity. (2) U.S. law could not be clearer that any foreigner whom we strongly suspect of corruption affecting natural resources (conviction not necessary, just good evidence) cannot get a U.S. visa. The Justice Department has a super-compelling dossier on the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, but the State Dept. still lets him come kick back at his $35 million coastal estate in Malibu. Equatorial Guinea . . has oil reserves. BBC News /// New York Times

People want to be accepted to the best schools, so, of course there are prep courses for law school admissions tests and for College Boards. There are even prep courses on how to impress admissions officers at elite high schools and elite grade schools. Now, in New York City, there are prep courses for 3- and 4-year-olds, to get into elite kindergartens. Seriously. New York Times

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

Charles Hersel, 39, was arrested in Thousand Oaks, Calif., by police who were responding to complaints from Westlake High School boys that a man was roaming the grounds offering them money if they would spit in his face. (The fee the time the police were watching was $31.) Some students said he was also offering money if they would expel even grosser bodily fluids on him. Los Angeles Times /// KEYT-TV (Santa Barbara) [mug shot]

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]


Amber Foster, 21, might have called in a false rape report on her ex-boyfriend, which is what the Muncie, Ind., police are charging. Or she might actually have been assaulted by the man, but if so, it was following an apparently consensual game of "Strip Yahtzee." The Star Press (Muncie)

Sub-Prime Americans

The Cook County (Ill.) Commission approved a settlement of $14,000 to janitor Mary Lait, who works in the sheriff's office and has twice thrown her back out of joint "reaching around to pick up a piece of toilet paper." Chicago Sun-Times

Chutzpah!: Mallory Ewart, 18, kindly organized a charity car wash on behalf of the family of a man killed in a hit-and-run collision in Vancouver, Wash. She raised hundreds of dollars. She presented some of it to the family. According to police, she siphoned off $500, herself, in order to post bail for her boyfriend — who is the driver accused of the hit-and-run. The Columbian

Sounds Like a Joke: The city of Salinas, Calif., 20 miles from idyllic Monterey, has a murder rate three times that of Los Angeles, fueled by feral gangs, but help is on the way. "Since February, combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been advising Salinas police on counterinsurgency strategy, bringing lessons from the battlefield," according to a Washington Post dispatch. "This is our surge," said Mayor Dennis Donahue. Washington Post

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

A Minnesota language software company with traditional translation platforms (Spanish, German, etc.) also does English-Klingon, with the assistance of linguist d'Armond Speers, who knows of what he speaks because, in a personal test of children's legendary language-learning ability, he spoke to his newborn only in Klingon for the first three years of his life. He said he learned a lot. (Bonus: Speers never cared that much for Star Trek.) Minnesota Daily

Irv Rosenfeld, 56, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., stock broker, was scheduled last week to smoke his 115,000th marijuana joint. He's one of the original Federal experimental medicinal patients in pain, allowed to buy huge quantities for 27 years. (The Federal program has been criticized for growing low-dose weed, but when you buy in Rosenfeld's quantity, that may not matter.) WTVJ-TV (Miami)

Oh, Dear! Joe Laiacona, 62, is running for the Illinois General Assembly's 40th District, from Chicago, against the open-lesbian daughter of a powerful Chicago ward boss. Laiacona, too, is gay and out. But Laiacona trumps her because he also happens to be a prominent figure in Chicago's leather community. The lady opponent complained, "We can't get a civil unions bill passed, and here's a guy who's . . . into bondage and sex slaves?" So far, Laiacona has no public position on the touchy issue of detainee torture. Chicago Reader

British actress Rita Marcalo, who has suffered a couple of epileptic seizures a year for 20 years even though she takes the best medication, believes epilepsy doesn't get enough attention from the public and so in December will give a one-woman show in which she hopes to induce her own seizure, right there on stage. She'll stop taking her meds and stare into the strobe lights to see what happens. Daily Telegraph

More Chutzpah!: At least three people were arrested in Canoga Park, Calif., when police found a sophisticated marijuana grow house with an advanced ventilation system to prevent the escape of dope scents into the neighborhood. That probably helped but did not eliminate the odor, and police got a whiff — because, for some reason, the perps had chosen a house located about 25 feet from the Topanga police station. KTTV (Los Angeles)

Inexplicable: The Readers' Choice this week was the arrests in Peru of suspects who supposedly killed people just to claim their body fat, which they could liquify and sell to international traffickers to make various cosmetics. The suspects thought the fat they had harvested could bring up to about $60,000 a bottle. [That is preposterous, given the supply curve nourished by U.S. obesity. Nothing would be better for the U.S. trade deficit than to be able to export what might be our greatest natural resource.] The Guardian (London)

Eyewitness News

Briton Jason Ripley, 39, was the toast of the Internet last week for (a) surviving an impossible injury and (b) doing it with Pythonesque style. The first thing he did when his car accidentally rammed an iron pole, completely impaling his chest, was call his boss to tell him he'd be a little late. ("I've had a bit of an accident. I'm in a spot of bother.") Daily Mail (London)

Almost as big a celebrity was Kevin McCarthy, whose home in Santa Rosa, Calif., is pictured at this link with a toppled, 90-foot-tall crane lying right in the middle of it. Oops! (No one was home, though.) Daily Mail (London)

More Things To Worry About

Asheville, N.C., physician Earl Sunderhaus is in trouble, though he was only doing his part to reduce the obesity epidemic. A patient reported him to the state medical board because he told her she was too [and apparently this is the technical term Sunderhaus used] "fat" to have another kid, and that made her feel bad. (Also, he told her she needed to get a job before getting pregnant again, instead of raising another child from the taxpayers' trough.) Citizen-Times (Asheville)

James Condren, 44, was brought to court in the Sydney suburb of Sutherland, to answer charges that he had called in bomb threats the day before to 10 different schools. Naturally, what's the first thing Condren did when he got to court? Yell "Bomb in the courthouse!" Cleared the room. Daily Telegraph (Sydney)

Who better to convince 200 young Italian women, specially selected for their beauty, that Islam is the one true way, than Col. Muammar Gaddafi? [see sexy photo of Gaddafi at link] He invited them to a posh party in Rome while he was in town for the UN food conference and lectured them for two hours. [Given Gaddafi's history, they got off light.] BBC News

Nicolas Cage filed a big lawsuit against his former business manager after finding himself in the embarrassing position of having spent money like he was the U.S. Congress or something. The business manager has fired back, saying he tried many times to tamp down Cage's spending, to no avail. He claims that Cage's purchases in 2007, alone, included three homes, 22 cars (including 9 Rollses), and 47 pieces of art. By 2008, the manager said, Cage owned 15 houses, four yachts, a Gulfstream jet, and an island in the Bahamas. New York Post

Upon Further Review . . .

Evangelical Christians seem to have a variety of indicators showing why America is headed for ruin, but Pastor Steven L. Anderson has one you may not be familiar with. We are bound for hell because men . . pee sitting down. Founding Fathers, standers. Original King James Bible authors, standers. New King James authors, sitters. Europeans, sitters. (Bonus: According to Anderson, the OKJ contains several iterations of the verb "to piss," such as "pisseth.") YouTube

Editor's Note

CORRECTION (I believe): A news story I relied on for NOTW/Pro, 10-26-2009, suggested that the Waiau, New Zealand, rabbit-carcass toss had been canceled this year as being a poor influence on young minds regarding the treatment of animals. But it says here that it was indeed held, that 70 people entered, and that Lisa Lutz, a German tourist, won it. Waikato Times via Stuff.co.nz

Newsrangers: Sam Gaines, Hal Dunham, Alex Courtade, Peter Hine, Kathryn Wood, Angel Rodriguez, Justin Warner, and Roger Meiners, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition (Extra)
November 16, 2009
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Still More Things to Worry About

Latest Religious Message: Lufkin, Tex., school teacher Pam McLaurin says the government can give her a reaming-out background check if they want, but no way will she submit her fingerprints, which the Book of Revelation says would be a bad thing. KLTV (Tyler)

Update: The Italian heavy-metal Franciscan monk, Cesare Bonizzi [celebrated in News of the Weird M070, 8-10-2008], is retiring as front man for Fratello Metallo, acknowledging that Satan made him too much of a celebrity. Reuters via Canada.com /// YouTube performance video

A turtle turned up at a Hindu temple in India's Orissa state, supposedly with markings of Lord Jagannath, meaning it's now humbly worshiped by villagers — except it might just be that whoever found the turtle made up the part about the markings so he wouldn't have to give up the rare, endangered animal. BBC News

A 12-year-old girl in Chesapeake, Va., sneezes 12,000 times a day, and neurologists are mostly stumped (with the only available remedy, apparently, being the standard, "Appear on morning network news show"). WAVY-TV (Hampton Roads, Va.)

"A man whose bowel was damaged in a motorcycle crash has been fitted with a bionic bottom that enables him to go to the toilet using a remote control," writes London's Daily Mail. The remote acts as a sphincter, opening and closing by sensor. (But, asks an NOTW Board Member, what if the remote falls into the wrong hands? Plus, he asks, can't they make a remote that'll just scratch your butt?) Daily Telegraph

Update: Michael G. Dick, 47, the man arrested in December [NOTW Daily, 1-2-2009] while naked, menacing the 88-year-old Oregon woman, until she grabbed him by the handiest appendage at her disposal and yanked, was sentenced to 16 months in prison. Gresham Outlook

Our new generation of leaders (continued): Blake Hall, 56, a St. Anthony, Idaho, deputy prosecutor and member of the national committee of one of our two major political parties, lost both posts after charges that he took a romantic break-up especially hard . . by, for example, tossing his used condoms onto his ex's lawn (19 condoms collected on 10 different dates). AlterNet.org

Without a mug shot, how can we possibly decide guilt or innocence? The Winnipeg, Manitoba, woman admitted raking her disabled boyfriend's credit card for $21,000, but she said she only did it to make him dump her because she couldn't bear to do the dumping, herself, because of his disability. As evidence, she quickly gave back all the money, which she said she had saved in order to return. As other evidence, though, she had just been on probation for stealing from another boyfriend to pay gambling debts. Winnipeg Sun

The government of the Extremadura region of Spain is the latest to take the creative approach to sex education by touting teenage (14 to 17) masturbation. "[P]leasure is in your own hands." BBC News

How to respect the spread of H1N1 virus while allowing Catholics to properly bless themselves with holy water: Instead of dipping their fingers in the church's communal pool, parishioners can run their hands under Luciano Marabese's holy water dispenser, which operates, hands-free, like a sensored restroom faucet. New York Daily News

One Minute: Wake Forest's Institute of Regenerative Medicine grows functional organs in the lab by extracting cells and doing the equivalent of putting them under a grow lamp. So far, they do rabbit organs, like bladders, but now they've had success with penises. (But, Chuck, what's the "one minute" reference to?) (Oh, that. "All rabbits with bioengineered [penises] attempted copulation within one minute of introduction [to a female rabbit.") Wired.com

Additional Newsranger: Larry Seltzer

Monday, November 16, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
November 16, 2009
(curious and/or absurd news from November 7-14
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. (All rights reserved. But please forward this issue to your pals.)

Weekly Gold

If you were a California lifer, why wouldn't you want to be on Death Row? The condemned get individual cells, better telephone access, nicer contact-visit arrangements, more personal-property privileges — and in fact, the state budget for each is $138,000 a year (compared to $49,000 a year for all other inmates). California now has 685 on death row but has only executed 13 in the last 32 years (versus 71 who have died of causes other than execution). (As reported here two weeks ago [NOTW/Pro, 11-2-2009], one just-convicted murderer is so anxious to get there that he volunteered confessions to two more murders that no one knew about.) Los Angeles Times

More Inconsistencies About U.S. Health Insurance: (1) A Harvard Medical School study revealed that, of all the Americans who passed away last year without health insurance, 2,200 were military veterans who had served their country but did not qualify for free veterans' benefits. (2) An analyst for the pet marketing industry told the Washington Times that "hundreds" of companies now offer supplementary pet health insurance for their employees. More than a million people pay about $400 a year for coverage. (3) As part of the new labor pact agreed to by Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell to keep the trains and buses operating in Philadelphia: If the Rx is for one Viagra a day, workers' insurance will pay for one Viagra a day, no longer just the stingy "10 per month" allowance. New American Media (Pacific News Service) /// Washington Times /// Daily Finance [link from Salon.com]

Chicago firefighter-turned-arsonist Jeffrey "Matches" Boyle (so nicknamed by Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass), who was sentenced to six years in prison in 2006 (served less than two) after pleading guilty to setting eight fires, was officially approved for his $50,000/year pension from the Chicago Fire Dept. Cook County Judge LeRoy Martin Jr. (euphemistically referred to as a "veteran" of "Chicago politics") concluded that Matches was off the clock when he set the fires. Chicago Tribune

The animal kingdom's most underrated intellect is . . the pig. With the completion of the pig genome, scientists who study that kind of thing remark on human-pig similarities: We're both quick learners, slow to forget things, have similar hearts, similar teeth, metabolize drugs the same way, stare at ourselves in the mirror (though for the pig, it appears to be curiosity more than vanity). Said one biologist, "I look at the pig as a great animal model for human lifestyle diseases. Pigs like to lie around, they like to drink if given a chance [and] smoke and watch TV." New York Times

A New Jersey judge overruled the police chief in the town of Manville and said prospective hunter James Cap, 46, was indeed qualified for a firearms license. Cap had last hunted while in his teens, but then had his neck broken in a high school football game and has been a quadriplegic for 30 years. His gun will be wheelchair-mounted, fired by Cap's blowing into a tube. Associated Press via Philly.com

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

David Roberts, 68, who apparently is no longer excited by Mrs. Roberts, 61, struck up online flirtations with much younger females, including one "14-year-old girl," who happened to be online-chatting with him from the next room. That is, Mrs. Roberts had discovered David's secret life and was twisting him slowly in the wind. The Welsh couple are divorcing. BBC News

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]


There's never a good time for a DUI, but this is among the worst: Mr. Tracy Tredway, 43, principal of Riddle Elementary School in Argos, Ind., got his DUI arrest while driving home from a Halloween party that he attended in pink dress, heels, and wig. The Smoking Gun

Bonus: Also from The Smoking Gun, three particularly interesting chaps from its current weekly collection of mug shots. (As always, we don't know what they're charged with. And as always, it doesn't matter.) Not a People Person /// Coming to the End of a Bad Hair Year /// The Neighbor You Dare Not Disturb

Sub-Prime Americans

The partially-submerged car in this photo (on Galveston Island, Tex., so it's in salt water) is a French-built Bugatti Veyron (the world's most powerful), which the driver had just purchased for $1.25 million before momentarily losing control when surprised by a pelican flyover. Houston Chronicle

Kevin W. Dunigan, 46, was convicted of murder in Sacramento, 14 years after the fact, when DNA was matched to him while he was in prison for being a 20-year bad guy. Kevin solidified the prosecutor's case by acting as his own lawyer. The jury seemed unimpressed by his assertions that he "[ran] the country" for the last few years, that George W. Bush did "everything I told him to." (Bonus: Bush's middle name is not the classic one, but Dunigan's is.) Sacramento Bee

No Longer Weird (but still irresistible): (1) In Holtsville, N.Y., four men were arrested for soliciting prostitutes outside a massage parlor during the middle of a raid of the parlor on prostitution charges. (A female plainclothes cop was apparently so hot that the four potential johns had ignored all the squad cars and flashing lights.) (2) Lloyd Barclay, 51, knocked off the KNBT bank in Bethlehem, Pa., but left his wallet and ID on the counter. (3) Michael Noyer, 45, burglarized a house in Manchester, N.H., but left his planner and his unemployment check stub behind. (4) Inept burglar Juventino Sanchez Jr., 57, tried to hit a Highland Park, Kan., business overnight but wound up stuck, upside down, in an air-conditioning vent. Newsday /// Morning Call (Allentown) /// Manchester Union Leader /// Capital-Journal (Topeka)

Well, it's a sub-prime American deer: In Viroqua, Wis., a seven-point buck apparently lost a head-butt contest with a same-size concrete statue of a buck, staggered off, and collapsed, dead, a few yards away. La Crosse Tribune

Angst, Confusion, Crisis

Government Officials Get Snippy: (1) Nepal's deputy agriculture minister, Ms. Karima Begam, miffed that a local official at a regional airport had sent only a second-string car to pick her up, slapped the poor guy in the face . . four times. (2) Chris Jackson, a city council member in Plattsburgh, N.Y., spit in the face of constituent Patrick Girard. Alcohol was involved, in that the incident occurred during a barroom analysis of the Boston Red Sox. Agence France-Presse via Google News /// Press Republican (Plattsburgh)

A team of researchers roaming the depths of Loch Ness in Scotland, looking for You-Know-Who, encountered a monstrous . . collection of golf balls, "hundreds of thousands" of them. A recent Danish Golf Association report said the balls will be there for from 100 to 1,000 years before decomposing. A UK legislator called golf balls "humanity's signature litter." CNN

Another Hardy Thief: Recently reported here was the 70ish bank robber who has to tote his oxygen tank around with him on the job [NOTW/Pro, 9-21-2009]. Now there's Shanae Harston, 19, whom police say they caught red-handed burglarizing a house in Vallejo, Calif., and who was so very pregnant that upon arrest, she immediately went into labor (and gave birth a short time later). Vallejo Times-Herald via San Jose Mercury News

If there is one thing you'd think we in Western capitals excel at, it's in having governments skilled at lying and "spinning." However, this sad report in The Times of London says the raggedy Taliban are actually vastly outperforming us, propaganda-wise, in Afghanistan. The Times

The director of the University Catholic Center at Duke University criticized his own business school's recruiting for a research study on sex-toy use by female students. Father Joe Vetter said he's worried that the study might encourage young women to "just sit around and masturbate" instead of forming relationships. Raleigh News & Observer (11-6-2009) /// WRAL-TV (update, 11-13-2009)

Eyewitness News

British soldier Shaun Clark has taken the ol' leave-no-one-behind adage super-seriously. Here he is having the name of yet another fallen UK troop from Afghanistan fighting . . tattooed on his back. Daily Mail [only about 110 out of the 232 are visible in this shot, but still–]

Mr. Lin Ma, 66, of Yuji in southern China, decided his wife had jumped on him one time too many for his drinking, and chose The Only Way Out. He is pictured here with the 8-inch nail sticking out of his head following an unsuccessful suicide attempt with a hammer. CEN/EuroPics via The Sun (London)

More Things To Worry About

A former TV weatherman, John Fredericks, had to leave his Las Vegas gig last year over some strangeness about his dog, but that's not worth sorting out because there's new strangeness: He had a brief meet-and-greet with a woman, fell in love, wouldn't stop calling her, and finally brought out the vicious-threat artillery . . before lapsing back into lovey-dovey. Fredericks must have been unaware that telephone answering machine messages are savable. KLAS-TV

Christians should love their enemies and do them good, said military veteran Dan Moss, 61, of Lehigh Acres, Fla., so after the Fort Hood massacre, with America oozing contempt for Major Hasan, Moss ordered a dozen yellow roses for the guy from a Killeen, Tex., florist. Moss's message quoted, "Koran 2: 190-3. In God's eye, and those who submit, you are a hero." Moss said he can't understand why the florist would call the FBI on him. Naples Daily News

Hyperactive Seniors: (1) London's Daily Telegraph caught up with the recent divorce of Bertie and Jessie Wood, who were 98 when the decree was granted last year. (The ex-husband died shortly afterward, and the ex-Mrs. Wood isn't doing too well, herself, but apparently the pair were certain they needed a fresh start.) (2) In Los Angeles, John Scott was arrested for tagging-vandalism. He is 74 (more than twice as old as the previous oldest arrested tagger.) Daily Telegraph /// Los Angeles Times [with mug shot]

In another sad piece, Sweetbay supermarkets of Florida has certainly freed up some space in Thanksgiving news stories. It is selling frozen pre-fried turkeys, thus probably reducing the usual number of Thanksgiving-morning house fires (and first- and second-degree burn admissions to ERs). Tampa Tribune

Upon Further Review . . .
Herewith, a major time-waster: 5½ hours of e-mail exchange between two married-to-other-people colleagues at Cornell University's business school. They may have a better sex life than you, but you're probably more careful when you click "send" on your e-mails. GuestofaGuest.com

Newsrangers: Richard Hunding, Stephen Taylor, Paul Vogt, James Hoban, Peter Swank, Sam Gaines, Peter Hine, Thomas Wyman, Hal Dunham, Kathryn Wood, Eugenia Schenecker, Sandy Pearlman, John Ellwood, Gregory Payne, and Russell Bell, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors