Monday, June 15, 2009

News of the Weird / Pro Edition
June 15, 2009 (news from June 6-13)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd

Vadis' Career Prospects Are Dim
India's small, nomadic Vadi tribe trains its toddlers from age 2 to become, er, cobra-charmers. India made that illegal in 1991, but the Vadi are historically good at staying ahead of the game. The secret: constant familiarity, even affection, creating mutual respect. The cobras are not de-fanged (respect!), but the Vadi say there's only been one disrespectful prick, and besides, they feed the cobras a special herb that "neutralizes" the poison [but that statement has not been, y'know, verified by the FDA]. Daily Telegraph (London)

. . . And Another Thing Not Verified by the FDA
"At one of the nation's top trauma hospitals, a nurse circles a patient's bed, humming and waving her arms as if shooing evil spirits. Another woman rubs a quartz bowl with a wand, making tunes that mix with the beeping monitors and hissing respirator keeping the man alive. They are doing Reiki therapy, which claims to heal through invisible energy fields. The anesthesia chief, Dr. Richard Dutton, calls it 'mystical mumbo jumbo.' Still, he [uses it]." An impressionable mind is a terrible thing to waste. Associated Press via USA Today

Great Art! (in fact, too great for the Venice Bienelle)
Belgian Jacques Charlier was kicked out of Venice's renowned avant-garde art pageant, having gone way too far, they say: His work was 100 detailed drawings of the cleverly imagined genitalia of prominent artists, with hints of the identity in each piece. Sydney Morning Herald [NSFW]

Fine Points of the Law (I)
California had the bright idea a few decades ago to empower ordinary citizens to enforce technical/trivial violations of state laws. For example, a lawyer, working with a wheelchair-using plaintiff, sues all eateries with restroom doors that are a tiny bit narrower than state regs require, and of course the lawyer encourages litigation-sparing $ettlement$. Now, Alfred Rava, Esq., has won $510k from the Oakland A's baseball team for a 2004 Mothers Day breast-cancer-awareness promotion because males weren't eligible for the floppy hats given to the first 7500 mothers through the turnstiles. Seriously. If you swear you were one of the first 7500 through the gates that day, you get $50 cash plus other goodies (after Rava took his cut, of course, of about half). ESPN The Magazine

Can't Possibly Be True
Tuvia Stern and his brother sit in New York City's famed jailhouse The Tombs, charged with scam-running, and Tuvia's good at that. He's damn good. He's so bloody good that here's what he pulled off while behind bars: He talked jailers into letting him stage his son's bar mitzvah in a big room in lockup, outside-catered, 50 guests, with NYC "contributing" overtime pay for five guards. Yeah, they had to peel Mayor Bloomberg off the ceiling when he found out. Associated Press via Haaretz

Fine Points of the Law (II)
Former elementary school principal John Stelmack was convicted in Bartow, Fla., of possession of child pornography, but of the pre-Photoshop variety: head shots of little girls actually (not digitally) pasted onto the sexually active torso-photos of adult women. A 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision sorta said that wasn't really "child pornography," but F State officials have this North Korea-like way of ignoring U.S. policy. Tampa Tribune

Like . . Hey . . Bow-Wow, Man . . .
Nestor Waddell's Labrador mix, Jack, nosing around a Seattle park on a walk with his owner, emerged from the bushes in a daze. He had swallowed "a large amount of dried, harvested marijuana," the later report said. According to Waddell, "[Jack's] eyes were kind of glossed over, very out of touch [and] he didn't seem to recognize me at first. When he was trying to walk, he was looking at his paw, and then looking at the ground and then trying to get his paw to touch the ground, but was unsuccessful." Kinda funny, but the vet charged Waddell $1,500 to bring Jack down. KING-TV (Seattle)

The Animal Kingdom, Stylin' and Profilin' Last Week
(1) Reports of those 20-30-ft-long tapeworms inside human bodies are increasing. (2) Male hummingbirds were clocked by a UC-Berkeley researcher jetting at nearly 400 body-lengths per second [If you could do that, you'd run a 100-yd dash in eight one-hundredths of a second]. (3) A police station in Gerihun, Sierra Leone, has been effectively shut down since January after a takeover by 400 snakes. (4) David Blunkett, a member of the British Parliament out for a walk in Derbyshire county, was attacked by a cow. (5) A dive-bombing blackbird "terrorized" San Francisco's business district. (6) Rose Purdy had to summon beekeepers in Ann Arbor, Mich., to get 1,500 bees off of her bicycle. (7) And in a Florida beachside orgy, with paparazzi looking on, nine male manatees had their way with a lone, horny female. Scientific American /// BBC News /// Agence France-Presse via Australian Broadcasting Corp. /// BBC News /// San Jose Mercury News /// Associated Press via WTVG-TV (Toledo, Ohio) /// Palm Beach Post

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You
Three boys from Whittell High School in Zephyr Cove, Nev., walking to school, ran across Dean Mark, 53, who happened to be naked and tied up, on his belly, over a large rock. They asked him if he needed to be untied, and he said no. They went on to school, then came back minutes later to find Mark dressed and walking around the school grounds. He was arrested. Tahoe Daily Tribune

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]
Kevin Miller, 41, pleaded not guilty in Xenia, Ohio, to harassing a few people recently by chasing after them, but the question is why anyone, especially women, might feel "harassed" just to see Kevin coming toward them. You be the judge. That's what arrest photos are for. Middletown (Ohio) Journal

Recurring Themes

More Tex-Ass Justice: Aaron Hart, 18, IQ 47, no rap sheet, was caught basically just playing doctor with a 6-yr-old little buddy and got 100 yrs in prison. The judge said he had no choice. The jury said they asked the judge about alternatives to sentencing but got no answer. The neophyte public defender failed to mention Hart's disability to the jury. The prosecutor kept characterizing it as a "violent" felony (because of the age difference, not for any real violence). Dallas Morning News

In Fact, a Lot of Things Happened Again Last Week: (1) People who stand out in public don't make good criminals, like, for instance, this 7-foot-4 burglar. (2) A 26-yr-old British man who lost his ear in a bar fight had it sewn into his abdomen to try to revive it for reattachment. (3) They're "moving" another graveyard that's lying in the way of progress, in Peoria, Ill. (and they believe that digging up the bones carefully, as required by state law, is all that's required to calm the spirits!). Daily Express (London) /// Daily Mail /// Chicago Tribune

More Angst & Confusion from Last Week

It's difficult to put an exact intellectual value on the just-published research by Prof. Kimberly Neuendorf of Cleveland State, whose team went through the first 20 James Bond movies and characterized the 195 female characters to reveal . . y'know . . stuff about them. Daily Telegraph (London)

Dan Davies's small production company is moving right along on location in Omro, Wis., on the full-length, straight-to-DVD Ed Gein: The Musical (Ed being one of America's more hideous, corpse-skinning psychopaths). The Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wis.) via Wausau Daily Herald

In 2006, judge and jury in Florida conclusively determined that William Deparvine murdered Mr. and Mrs. Van Dusen for their vintage pickup truck, and he was sentenced to take the needle, but while he's waiting, he's filed a civil lawsuit to have the truck "returned" to him. Seriously. St. Petersburg Times

Scenes from the economic downturn, in Toronto: A drag queen was "enraged" when a customer tried to bargain him down to $5 (from $60) for a blow job. "I didn't spend two hours getting my makeup on and all dressed up for [five damn dollars]." Toronto Star

Kids in Ball-mer [you know, the largest city in Maryland] are legendary for sticking close to home all their lives, thrilling sociologists in our otherwise wildly-mobile nation. Now, Gregory Glass and his public-health investigators from Johns Hopkins have proved, via DNA, that Ball-mer's rats similarly rarely ever leave the alley they were born in. Show Gregory the DNA, and he'll tell ya whether it's an "East Baltimore" or "West Baltimore" rat. Baltimore Sun

Albania has been unusually slow to sync its voter lists and its death rolls, so much so that 17,000 current "voters" (roughly enough to single-handedly elect two legislators) are between the ages of 90 and 159 (3,300 over age 110). Reuters via Yahoo

Grown-ups at Lanigan Central High in Minot, N.D., came up with this great idea: Since kids would surely be drinking to celebrate the end of the school year, let's have a "safe-drinking" party, where kids could pop a cold one with sober adult supervision. Of course, there have to be rules: (1) written parental permission, (2) only age 15 and up, (3) not more than,er, 10 drinks each. KXMC-TV (Minot)

Last Words: "A million dollars is a lot of money to pay for a whore."—the late multimillionaire French banker Edouard Stern, quoted by girlfriend Cecile Brossard, aka the said "whore," now on trial in Geneva, Switzerland, for immediately then killing him. BBC News

More Sub-Prime Americans

Motorist Zackary Johnson was arrested after flagging down a cop in Athens, Ga., just to ask him whether there were any warrants out on him. (Answer: "Put your hands behind your back . . ..") Athens Banner-Herald

Motorist Jessica Jackson, 29, was arrested in Port Edwards, Wis., for DUI, plus she was talking on the phone while weaving in traffic, plus she was naked below the waist, plus her pants were hanging out the window. Wausau Daily Herald

Readers' Choice: At least twice last week, hospitality management training took hits, as pranksters claiming to be from higher-up (but identities were unverified by the "managers") called outlets (a What-A-Burger in Albuquerque and a Holiday Inn in Conway, Ark.) and somehow convinced the sheep to "test" fire sprinklers, which in both cases resulted in massive flooding, broken windows, and wrecked furniture. KOAT-TV /// The Smoking Gun

Newsrangers: Peter Smagorinsky, Bruce Alter, Henry Bailey, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors