Monday, August 24, 2009

News of the Weird / Pro Edition
August 24, 2009 (news from August 15-22)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd

If Zombies Attack for Real, We're Toast
Two math professors in Canada modeled a zombie outbreak as a major infectious disease, to predict whether we non-necros could fight back. Not a chance, they conclude. After all, this is one "infection" that would just keep reviving itself every time we killed it, unless we killed it in just the correct way (however that is, which is unclear now because movies keep altering the rules of zombie biology). (Bonus: The lead researcher, from the University of Ottawa, is, and I quote, "Robert Smith?," and there is no typo there.) BBC News

The Subtleties of Gender
"Extremely complex" is how a world amateur athletics spokesman described gender verification testing (commenting on the suspicions raised about the champion South African runner Caster Semenya, who is, said her daddy, his "little girl," even though she appears to some like daddy's little boy). Complex? Hey, just pull her pants down, huh?. Or measure her androgen and estrogen levels? Or see if she's got a Y? Well . . no. For athletic-unfairness purposes, those things are indicators but aren't conclusive. Some genitalia are actually in conflict or inactive, and anyway, it's not the dick itself that improves female athletes' performance. It's the hormones, but men can still tilt high on estrogen and women tilt high on androgen. Even the chromosome thing doesn't always work out right. And the hormone deal, itself, gets you into a gray area because so much of superior performance emanates from the body one acquires at birth. World-class athletes are (and I use the term lovingly) freaks of nature, as are sexually-confused transgenders. [On the other hand, just because I'm sympathetic doesn't mean I'm necessarily for letting trannies decide, all to themselves, which restroom they're gonna pee in.] New York Times

That's . . Howard . . Awand
Fortune magazine exposes a massive conspiracy among a Las Vegas doctor and a Las Vegas lawyer, and associated cronies, to inflate legal settlements with superfluous medical tests. Strongest evidence: Clients are sworn to secrecy about the name of the fixer who puts the doctor and lawyer together for them. That would be Howard Awand. Oops. Anyway, I read somewhere that people are innocent until howardawand proved guilty in a court of law so let's not jump to conclusions. After all, Fortune's only interviewed 40 howardawand players, including two who say they were in on the whole thing. Howard Awand. Fortune

Can't Possibly Be True
Michael Sesera of Blairstown, N.J., needed a little zoning love from the town of Hanover so he could build a convenience store and so did the natural New Jersey thing and offered a $20k bribe to the mayor to make it happen . . and the mayor turned his ass in! The nerve! Associated Press via WCBS Radio

People with Worse Sex Lives Than You
Randall Giesbers (who came into the news the week before last, sorry) is at least an authentic serial panty burglar. According to police in Salem, Ore., he was discovered rummaging around a lady's garage, wearing only her underthings. During booking, he was found to be wearing even more of her underwear, underneath the outer underwear. But he might be innocent; ya can check the mugshot to be certain. KPTV (Portland, Ore.)

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

Mr. Kay Fotheringham, 52, might possibly have misfired his shotgun so that he accidentally hit two people at a nearby gas station. The Smoking Gun /// KSL-TV (Salt Lake City) [story]

Robert Cook, 58, is unlikely, perhaps, to have done anything so stupid as to call 911 just to report that his wife had hidden his booze from him. (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Recurring Themes

Health Care That Works: Roger Martin, 71, with a 30-yr rap sheet on pedophilia, is the latest old fart to be routinely prescribed Viagra by Britain's Nat'l Health Service. Police say there's nothing they can do. Daily Mail

The annual Gotmar festival has finally been banned, after centuries of tradition in two Indian villages (and about 15 yrs of tradition in News of the Weird). Residents of Saargaon and Pandhurhna had been coming together once a yr to throw rocks at each other all day long. Last yr's toll was typical: one dead, 400 injured, lots of blood. Every damn year, that happens. They tried one year to limit the arsenals to fluffy stuff, but too much testosterone was involved, and the next year, it was back to lethality. Agence France-Presse via

More Angst & Confusion from Last Week

Two musical beggars in Moseley, England, will get only an Anti-Social Behavior Order for 2 yrs when they obviously deserve a much, much harsher fate, in that, for tips, they were playing the same two songs, over and over and over and over, days at a time, over and over (Wonderwall by Oasis and Faith by George Michael). Over and over. The Independent

The chairman of a big Italian bank said they'll start accepting inventory from food producers as collateral for loans. Wine. Prosciutto. Parmesan. The Guardian (London)

It says here that Veracruz, Mexico, is honoring Edgar Hernandez, aka the Patient Zero kid in the swine flu deal, with a statue. It also says that some people follow Edgar into public restrooms to try and collect some of his now-therapeutic urine. True/Slant /// [en espanol, mis amigos]

Britain's Guardian found a credentialed person to say he thinks "orthorexia nervosa" is on the upswing. Orthorexics are people ("righteous eaters") who get all pathological about consuming only "healthy" crap. The Guardian

A theme park in England has issued an official "please-don't" policy to stop roller coaster riders from raising their arms in the summertime, because their fetid pits are grossing out their seatmates. Daily Telegraph

Sounds Like a Joke: A 19-yr-old student drowned near Osaka, Japan, testing out his brand-new "concrete canoe." Mainichi Daily News

Police in a Dallas suburb put out an APB for a car they suspected as the getaway vehicle in a fast-food drive-thru-lane-rage incident. (Bonus: It was a Bentley.) Dallas Morning News

The natural order of things: (1) After Britain denied asylum to an Afghan immigrant for using a fake passport, the immigrant sued because the rejection made him all depressed. (2) Julie Greenleaf filed claims against the Ventura, Calif., police for $680k, for medical care and damage to her home. The police had shot up the place after Julie's husband holed up inside in a standoff and fired 50 shots at the cops. (3) Allecyn Edwards visited the Brookfield (Ill.) Zoo, and took in the splashing dolphin performance, but never realized how wet the walkway around the pool was . . until she dorked out and slipped, which is not her fault. Daily Mail /// Associated Press via The Record (Stockton) /// Chicago Tribune

More Sub-Prime Americans

Piece of Work: Birmingham, Ala., school board candidate Antwon Womack is staying in the race despite setbacks, which so far include lying six times on his bio. The important thing, however, is that his campaign "is not based on a foundation of lies. My values are not lies. It's just the information I provided to people is false." He needs to stay in the race, he said, because the school board shows "a lack of leadership." Birmingham News

Add Jessica King to the list of people who somehow manage to get run over by their own car. In fact, ya can add her . . twice. Lawrence Journal-World (Lawrence, Kan.)

Some day soon, Damien Cole needs to catch a break. Things are going badly. His pal, with a gun, signed Damien up as wing man for a robbery. Pal demanded the money. Victim also had a gun. Victim shot pal dead. In Anglo-American justice, Damien's now guilty of the "felony murder" of his pal. Could do 50 yrs. WTMJ-TV (Milwaukee)

Readers' Choice
A long-time customer of Penny Lane Records in Sydenham, New Zealand, picked out a CD, asked the clerk to reserve it for him, and even wrote his name and address on it to make sure they held it. Only then, apparently, did he decide to grab cash out of the cash register and run off. The Press (Christchurch)

Newsrangers: Don Ferguson, Albert Clawson, Kathryn Wood, Brian Cunningham, Kate Kawiti, Tim Kirby, Jon-Paul McGowan, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors